What causes apparently normal persons to be violent?
By Eileen Cox
September 28, 2003
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Over and over the words of John Donne come to mind when we seek to find solutions to problems in the modern society. One of our major problems is domestic violence. We may not go so far as to identify a woman’s screams as our own screams but we do hear a sister screaming and we do stand by helplessly unable to render assistance or take action to prevent a recurrence.
Vidya Kissoon, in a letter published in the Stabroek News on Friday, September 19, expressed concern that no one sought to intervene when screams were heard. There are two good reasons for that. First, the rescuer may be maimed or killed and, secondly, the victim may resent intrusion. It is reported that one woman told the person who went to her aid “Doan interfere in me and my man business”.
Vidya, as he is known to his friends, also hoped that the justice meted out to those who raped and murdered a woman would prevent others from committing similar crimes. The facts of life reveal that fear of punishment, even death, does not deter men from committing crimes of violence. The crimes continue unabated.
In 1996, Minister Indranie Chandarpal, in introducing the Domestic Violence Bill, referred to violence against women and claimed that it was an obstacle to the achievement of equality, development and peace. It was, she said a violation of their human right and fundamental freedom. The Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, she reported, identified violence as one of the critical areas of concern for governments all over the world. She said:
“Here in Guyana, a study on Domestic Violence by Danns and Shiv Persaud found that two out of every three women experienced at least one incident of some form of physical violence from their husbands or partners ranging from pushing, slapping, to battering and maiming. The need for legislation based on the data is critical in the absence of adequate and appropriate legislative framework for the resolution of the problem.”
Dr Cheddi Jagan, as President, assented to the Domestic Violence Act 1996, on December 31, 1996. With the Act in operation for more than six years, it may be time to review it and see whether it has had the desired effect. A good occasion for review would be the International Day Against Violence Against Women, 25 November.
“The Domestic Violence Act: A Household Guide” seeks to interpret the law for the guidance of those of us who are not familiar with the legal jargon of laws. The publication was supported by the Canada Caribbean Gender Equity Fund.
It explains Domestic Violence as including;
“verbal, physical, sexual, and psychological abuse between the members of a family/household.” “Domestic violence is seen as taking place between a man and a woman, a parent and child, a sister and a brother.”
There are three types of orders that can be used by a court to ensure the safety of a family member or members. These are: a protection order, an occupation order and a tenancy order.
A protection order is an order made by the court to protect the victim and the victim’s child/children from a violent person.
An occupation order gives the right to the victim and the victim’s child/children to live in the family home which an abuser must leave.
A tenancy order gives the right to the victim and the victim’s child/children to live in a rented house which the abuser must leave.
A police officer has the power to enter any household without a warrant, under the following circumstances:
* if he/she suspects that the terms and conditions of a protection order have been broken;
* if he/she has been invited into a home and suspects that a person(s) is in danger of being hurt, or has been hurt, by someone also within the household;
* if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that someone is in danger of suffering, or is suffering, from physical injury done by another person within the household.
We have to remember that domestic violence takes place at all levels of society. Women and homosexuals may also be violent to their partners. Certainly, some women are violent towards their children.
The Crisis Centre, Help & Shelter, was established in January, 1995. It offers free, confidential counselling to persons in distress, in the home of office. It is situated on Homestretch Avenue and maintains a Hotline at 231-7249.
There are concerned individuals who remain on the sidelines not knowing how to tackle problems that arise in their families or among their friends.
The questions that remain unanswered are: What causes apparently normal persons to be violent? Is the behaviour learned in childhood? Is it caused by use of alcohol or drugs? Is there too much stress in the society? No religious upbringing?
If a meeting can be arranged for 25 November, answers to these questions may surface.