Posted on

Image is not everything… Help abused women in SVG!


Fri, Dec 2. 2011

Editor: Many of us are now aware of the news piece by a Canadian newspaper a few weeks ago where the issue of Vincentian women seeking refugee status surfaced. The main reason given by the women for wanting ‘out’ of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is domestic violence.{{more}}

There have been speculations that some of claims are untrue and questionable. In fact, one Vincentian woman’s family has come forward and refuted her claim of violence being done against her person (see Searchlight Friday 25 edition pg 3). I believe that the untruthful culprits who deceive authorities, disgrace their family and misrepresent their country should be disciplined in accordance with the law. However, we must beware of those who are politicising (partisan) and downplaying the seriousness of violence against women in our country. They accuse the concerned citizens of “blowing up the issue too much or making the country look bad”. The aforementioned seem to be more concerned with image than the cries of our womenfolk. We must realise that one abuse is one too many! And in order to deal with the issue of domestic violence head on, we must listen and discern the genuine cases. They need help, and all of us must reach out in whatever way we can.

Instead of seeing the newspaper release as bringing ‘shame’ on the country, we should consider that it was an opportunity to highlight the discussion on violence against women and to seek solutions together. Heightened discussion could have positive effects.

1. Abused women could be encouraged to come forward placing themselves in a better position to get help. Many women endure abusive situations for years. Some of them don’t even know where to turn-not even to openly discuss it. They end up with physical and psychological scars which remain with them for a lifetime. When women are encouraged to share their experiences it makes a great difference.

2. The abusive men (‘animals’ in behaviour) will understand society’s disgust towards their inhumane actions. Women will also have more courage to bring these men to justice, including abusive men in ‘respectable’ positions who hide behind status, money and influence in society.

3. We have another opportunity (now that the issue is in the air) to show intolerance towards violence, to cry shame on those who rape and intimidate women, to cry shame on those who say that “the women deserve it or “she beg for it”, to cry shame on those who criticise victims of abuse for speaking out and to enlighten the women who accept disrespect and abuse as ‘normal’.

Sadly, some of us, even those in authority, sit passively because the abused victims are not our mothers, sisters, cousins or other relatives. A whole transformation of attitude is needed. Where is the godly compassion and brotherly love? Where is the natural sympathy and drive to reach out to the afflicted and helpless, hurting? How closer home can it get for us to take urgent action? Will we sit idly by and be more concerned about people’s perception of our country than about the growing plight of our women? It is time that we realise that image is not everything. The abused women (and men, too) in our country need help!

Ann-Marie Ballantyne
[email protected]