I’m an island girl born and bred. With its 1.3 million residents, Trinidad and Tobago is as cosmopolitan as you can get! It’s no joking matter that our National Anthem says… “Here every creed and race finds an equal place”
Just recently we were adjudged to be amongst the top ten happiest people in the world.
So you can imagine my horror when I overheard the following…”Boy! I woulda beat she so eh, if dat was my chile an she did dead” (in Trinidadian vernacular) those were the immediate utterances of a work colleague when he heard of a situation involving a child who had fallen into a river. In his mind, instantly the child’s mother was to be held accountable and be given a beating for apparently “not watching de chile”.
It’s instances like those which always leave me perplexed! Isn’t parenting supposed to be a shared responsibility? From all accounts the father was right there, so when when did it become “acceptable” to flog or beat a woman for ones’ perceived wrongdoing, how is it that in a society such as ours; this behaviour has become commonplace?
What is that one characteristic that abusers seems to identify with and exactly what sets them apart from the non-abuser, how can it be that they react with such violence towards women so easily?
A former friend once confided to another friend and I that he’d hit his wife, I was shocked and upset “no friend of mine behaves in such a manner” I thought… It got even worse
when he began to describe what occurred and the actions he took “tuh bring she in line” only then did reality hit me (no pun intended) my former friend was a wife beater… It’s what he did to keep his woman in line. Evidently I’ve cut ties with him, I didn’t want to be guilty by association.
As a young adult I’d often say I didn’t want to associate with anyone who cheated or beat on their wives or abused their children. It’s like…show me a man who’s guilty of one act and I’d show you a perpetrator who’s guilty of all, I’ve since realized that that’s not necessarily the case, though in my view, they both bear a close resemblance.
The very harsh reality though, is that men continue to show their need for control and dominance over women, by neglect, ill treatment, verbal, physical, mental and sexual abuse and in this small island I call home, it’s even more glaring.
There’s no structural class or stature which determines who gets to feel the brunt of some insecure person’s need to exercise their desire to control that or one who needs no control. But rather you have a wide cross section of men who prove their manhood by abusing the more vulnerable in society.
It can be argued that we all have a role to play in the elimination of violence against women, that if we all stand up in defiance with one voice to support those who have none, then bit by bit we’d push out the abusers…but really and truly it would take a whole lot more than such a simplistic approach.
Then, this is exactly what happens, we begin to doubt the effectiveness of one approach over another and before we know it, nothing happens, we sit in silence and do nothing and the longer we take at doing nothing, is the more broken our mothers, daughters, aunts and sisters become. We have to work together for that change to happen, women and men and collectively our refusal to permit violence will go a long way in addressing this menace. Let’s all do our part in breaking the silence and stigma attached to violence against women and children. Our worth is way more than that of broken bone and black/blue eyes!
Trudy Hudlin is a Health Safety and Environmental Professional she resides and works in the Island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Her passion is and has always been people and keeping them safe is what she does best.
It is in this regard that Trudy has partnered with the women’s arm of the Trinidad and Tobago Police service on community walks and embarked on a T-shirt campaign both aimed at bringing about awareness and sensitizing the public on a ZERO TOLERANCE approach to domestic violence.
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