Yesterday morning, this nation woke up to the news of yet another deadly domestic violence incident.
The many expressions of regret and remorse that have been shared since then will be of little comfort to the four children orphaned after the brutal slaughter of their mother, Sherian Huggins.
The circumstances of their bereavement force this society to, once again, focus on the extent to which domestic violence continues to tear apart families.
Other such murders made for a brutal start to 2020, as in January there were horrendous incidents, including the murder of a pre-school teacher in full view of her young pupils and that of a young woman who could not find safety even in her parents’ home.
In too many cases, violence is seen as a way of solving problems in families and has become the model for how things should be done.
The frequency with which domestic violence murders are committed exposes the lack of safe, nurturing living spaces for too many of us, especially women and children.
The spate of domestic violence killings at the start of this year brought about responses from many entities, including the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), which announced a series of projects and programmes to address gender-based violence.
Working with data from the Central Registry on Domestic Violence, some intervention strategies were formulated. Parliament debated and passed amendments to the Domestic Violence Act which provide greater protection for victims.
Even before these measures were rolled out, in 2019 the T&T Police Service (TTPS) introduced its Gender-Based Violence Unit, bringing on board manpower and physical resources to respond to such crimes more effectively.
Other preventative measures are still to be implemented but already in place—at least in theory—are the laws and programmes to eradicate domestic violence and other gender-based crimes.
However, safeguarding victims against brutal attacks requires much more than these resources. If they are not regularly utilised, if there continue to be inadequate levels of intervention, the violence won’t stop.
What T&T needs is for every law-abiding citizen to take a firm stance against domestic violence. This means decisive and consistent action instead of the usual empty talk.
It is not enough to sit on the sidelines of this national scourge. The peace we pray for regarding this major societal issue requires hard work. That means enforcing the law, raising awareness and supporting the efforts of the groups and individuals who have been toiling for years to bring about a safer and happier society.
Government and the TTPS have their part to play but so do ordinary citizens, who must be taught to look out for signs of abuse, report the perpetrators and provide support and safety to the victims.