The death of 37 year old Nicole Harrison-Watson remains top of the mind for many Barbadians a couple days after she was found murdered at her Ferniehurst, Black Rock, St Michael home. While it does no good to speculate about what motivated her assailant (a suspect is being questioned by Police), it affords the living the opportunity to critically and dispassionately analyse the poor conditions which many Barbadians live under in Barbados and in particular our young women.
BU subscribes to the view that a woman with her unique nurturing quality was created to complement a man. When the two – man and woman – function in harmony, they are able to optimize on their mental, physical, and emotional state. The result is that the society we cohabit becomes a good place in which we can live quality lifes. The challenge of the government, NGOs and civil society at large is how do we manage to achieve the societal equilibrium required with all the competing ideologies at play.
Without fuelling the puerile debate about building a society instead of an economy, how can we pontificate about the success of the Barbados society, if according to the most recent Barbados Country Assessment of Living Conditions Report (CALC) “persons living below the poverty line in Barbados has double, since the last study on living conditions and poverty was undertaken over a decade ago”? Pertinent in the report is that 19.3% of Barbadian individuals in 15% of households earn income below the poverty line – 9.1% of individuals 7% of households were living below the indigence line at the time the survey was carried out. An easy conclusion to make, anecdotally though it is, these numbers with the prevailing economic hardships must be trending upward.
A significant percentage of individuals and households operating below the poverty line are located in government housing developments – Deacons, Pine, Silver Hill, St Matthias and other clusters known for low income habitation. Of interest to BU is that a significant of number of individuals operating below the poverty line are women and on p.110 of the report 38% recorded no level of examination passed. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to understand what this current state will breed.
The bigger point is that there is bound to be a positive correlation in the lack of social cohesion and crime in many of these depressed neighbourhoods like Deacons and the Pine and the declining economic condition. It is no secret that Deacon is overridden with drug lords whose stranglehold on the women especially is born out of the over crowding, lack of opportunity, under employment, hunger, lack of education voluminously articulated in the (CALC). How many women existing below the poverty line are abused, rape, beaten because of the infestation of a drug culture in these developments which makes those with money (usually men) the ‘bankers’ in community?
In a negative environment accepting the findings in the CALC report what happens to families if the women are victims? Without the woman how will the family survive? Of course some will get a lifeline but many will be sucked into a black hole of poverty and their generations to follow. We have to do better to protect our women to enable them to fulfil their nurturing role. No society can deem to have progressed if we are not protecting our womenfolk, if we are losing our womenfolk.
Barbadians one and all have to agitate to ensure the authorities mobilize an action plan to fight back against the scourge of poverty wrecking havoc on 19.3% of Barbadians (which equates to about 58,000 people) across Barbados. Of importance, let us protect our womenfolk,