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UNWILLINGNESS TO INTERVENE IN GBV

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Sir,

As friends, family members, co-workers or neighbours we often overhear statements like; ‘he was accused of assaulting her and charges were lodged, but he was unceremoniously released after two days. Two months later she signed a peace binding statement, but the charges were withdrawn after she experienced pressures from extended family members. One year after that, he killed her’.

Strides

Despite the fact that significant strides have been taken to benefit women when these expressive red flags arise, but significant work remains to be done in as far domestic violence is concerned. Experts are good at identifying who is at high-risk, but I think the challenge is; then what do we do about that? Despite ‘comprehensive and innovative’ public education initiatives aimed at preventing domestic violence, neighbours, friends and families, who may suspect something, there is still an unwillingness to intervene by reporting this violence. There is a sort of societal reluctance to admit the reality that men kill the women whom they say they love. As a social worker, I cannot overstress the need to find more suitable ways of reaching those who are at risk, and their perpetrators, through other means other than the police or the justice system.

Experience

Experience has taught us that people, for many different reasons, are reluctant to involve the police. An intervention from a third party, such as a doctor, pastor or a teacher who notices something with the children, can be important to remind the person at risk that there are alternatives and help available. A supportive workplace can make a significant difference to someone who is trying to leave a toxic relationship or find some channels of assistance. Most of us know this; this is not really speculation. We have survivors who are really vocal about what it means to have or not have support from the workplace. We spend so much time there and it is critical to our well-being to have jobs and the ability to do good work and yet our colleagues delay to assist.

A woman’s employment status, like those who are meekly paid, can have a major effect on someone’s ability to leave a toxic relationship. Thus, significant progress would be legislative change to provide paid leave for someone experiencing domestic violence and an employer or government to provide funds to be used towards counselling sessions, moving, going to court and more. It is general knowledge that domestic violence that does not end in homicide can still leave children with long-term mental and physical mutilation.

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