No more silence on domestic violence
During the most recent session in the House of Assembly, the day after the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, there was silence from our government.
Bermuda is experiencing a significant public health issue and if the Government is serious about protecting people, laws and policies must be strengthened to reduce the abusive behaviours we have been seeing.
The Government has got to break its silence and pick up the pace to protect the victims from further harm. Domestic violence is destroying our families. We have children living with abuse and we must act with a sense of urgency and find solutions now to stop the violence.
There are gaps in the Bermuda Domestic Violence (Protection Orders) Act 1997 that need to be filled and areas where the laws need to be strengthened. When a victim is ready to report an abusive situation, Bermuda laws must be comprehensive and ready to support victims when they are most vulnerable. Community members have been calling for early intervention, simplified application for protection orders and increased public awareness.
One Bermuda Alliance senator Robin Tucker and community activists have called for a domestic violence court. Reported cases should be managed by those who are trained to recognise and deal with the complexity of domestic abuse. Ms Tucker has also called for more private-data collection to identify the kinds of abuses and to assist helping agents to respond appropriately.
We regret that domestic violence in Bermuda has reached this point and our hearts go out to all the victims living in silence. As a government, we must step up and make real progress in the protection of domestic violence victims.
• Susan Jackson is an Opposition backbencher and the MP for Pembroke South West (Constituency 20)