The Coalition against Domestic Violence extends its deepest condolences to the family of Reshma Kanchan. It is heartbreaking that this young woman, mother of two has been murdered and in this brutal way. We call for appropriate psychosocial support and other support interventions for this family. In 2020, at least 20 women were killed by persons with whom they had relationships. Many, many more are suffering in silence and without adequate protection or access to services.
As in the case of previous domestic murders, the Coalition against Domestic Violence is repeating its call for a comprehensive multidisciplinary investigation into domestic murders.
In relation to Reshma Kanchan, according to television interviews with her mother, Devika Kanchan, there was a history of abuse which included an attack on Reshma in her mother’s yard. 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, Devika 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? We repeat our call for investigations into domestic murders that include seeking answers to these questions by the authorities. We believe that these inquiries will give us a better understanding of how to intervene to prevent these preventable tragedies. Such inquiries can also highlight areas of improvement in the responses by communities and by state institutions. They will contribute to strengthening the culture of accountability of all of us to do more, to speak up, stand up and act to protect and prevent domestic violence.
These multidisciplinary investigations may be carried out by the TTPS Gender-based Violence Unit, the Gender and Child Affairs Unit of the Office of the Prime Minister, or the Victim and Witness Support Unit with specialist support if necessary, from research institutions such as The University of the West Indies. The aggregated data collected should be made available to all stakeholders to better inform ongoing and future interventions.
We cannot run away from the intersecting relationship of domestic murders with gender inequality and harmful masculinities. The psychosocial context including the COVID-19 pandemic must also be considered. We need government and societal response, which includes school and out of school based interventions, gender-sensitive parenting programmes, programs engaging men including perpetrator interventions/batterer’s intervention programmes, and the integration of gender analysis into teacher and police education programmes, utilising multiple strategies including social media. These interventions are more likely to be implemented with the adoption of a well-resourced national action plan to end gender-based violence. We call upon the government to take action on the finalisation of the national action plan.
Domestic murders must be stopped. We can stop domestic violence. Let us learn and let us act.