Crime Scene Investigation, CSI, at the scene on Laltoo Trace, Debe where Reshma Kanchan chopped to death yesterday

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Although the government says it is taking steps toward protecting victims of domestic violence, women’s advocacy groups are calling for a greater effort to save women whose lives are under threat by violent men.Womantra director Stephanie Leitch said police are mandated to respond to all distress calls. Leitch said the claim that Reshma Kanchan’s family made multiple calls to the police that went unanswered is highly concerning. Leitch said that in a similarly upsetting incident a few weeks ago, police responded to a neighbour’s call about a domestic dispute but decided not to enter the residence when they arrived. The woman who lived in that house was found dead days later in a cesspit. She said this was unacceptable. “Specially trained officers of the Gender-Based Violence Unit are located in nine police stations throughout the country, and Penal is not one of them, but this does not excuse the non-responsiveness of officers. If any woman or victim would like to make a report of domestic violence, any officer is empowered to take an initial report and pass it onto the nearest GBV Unit. In the Southern district, this would include Mon Repos, LaBrea and Point Fortin. “I am hopeful that ACP Claire Guy-Alleyne and Shireen Pollard, Manager of the GBV Unit will conduct their investigations and pursue the appropriate action to hold the officers stationed at Penal accountable. Accountability must be at the centre of policing, especially when there is a loss of life that could have been prevented,” Leitch said.She said Reshma was the most recent victim of femicide but joins 18 other women for 2020. She wants all stakeholders interested in ending gender-based violence to collaborate in a State-led effort to ensure that no one falls through the cracks. “This is an urgent call to do so. The upcoming budget must be gender-informed, taking into account the specific vulnerabilities of women and girls to violence during COVID-19 and allocate sufficient funds for community interventions, including family mediation and psychosocial support. It is not enough to simply react to the murder of women, we have to do more to prevent it. “Noting the Kanchans’ claims of police inaction were similar to those made by the families of other domestic violence murder victims, the Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CADV) repeated its call for a comprehensive multidisciplinary investigation into domestic murders.“What were her circumstances and those of the perpetrator? What do we know about the perpetrator? Did Reshma have family and community support? Did the perpetrator have family and community support? Had multiple reports been made to the police as claimed by her mother, Davica Kanchan in television interviews?“If reports were made in relation to domestic abuse against Reshma, what was the police response? Was an application for a protection order considered? Did her community know that she was a victim of abuse? What actions were taken if any, to protect Reshma by those around her? CADV believes this approach will contribute to strengthening the culture of accountability of all to do more, to speak up, stand up and act to protect and prevent domestic violence.The Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ) is calling all citizens to respond urgently to the prevalence of violence against women and girls in T&T. Leela Ramdeen, Chair of CCSJ, said legislation is not sufficient and too often family members, neighbours, friends and co-workers know or suspect abuse and do nothing about the situation. Ramdeen said there are many avenues open for citizens to act. She said everyone heard stories of people visiting police stations in their districts, only to be ignored. While the TTPS established a Gender-Based Violence Unit, whose jurisdiction goes beyond local police stations, she called of them to step out of their comfort zones and assist women to escape imminent death. “This heinous form of oppression/gender-based violence is an affront to the inherent dignity of each woman/girl and diminishes/dehumanises all of us. If we analyse these crimes, we will see that predatory violence involved planned acts. We all know the statistics, that globally, about one out of every three women have experienced violence in their lifetime. We need to move beyond statistics to take action at various levels in our society to put an end to this crime. We must step up and be our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers – yes, brothers, as perpetrators appear to have been socialised to respond to rejection in a certain way. We must re-socialise both sexes, address the unequal power relations between and women, and play our part in building a culture of life, love, and mutual respect: from an early age. Attitudinal and behavioural changes won’t happen by vaps. We have serious work to do. For example, we must address the need for values/conscience formation and citizenship programmes – at home, in our educational institutions, in our faith communities, in our workplaces etc,” Ramdeen said. She acknowledged that some perpetrators are suffering from severe mental illnesses and may be dangerous. Therefore, she urged people to be cautious when dealing with these situations and to call on the authorities, but take action.