February 14, 2017

Domestic violence in Trinidad and Tobago

A look at the issues driving violence against women.

Jamilia Derevenax was working her restaurant job at the popular MovieTowne complex in Trinidad’s capital when she got a phone call from a man she knew. Shortly after leaving to meet him, she was found with her throat slit in the parking lot, the victim of what police are calling a “domestic dispute.”

The 27-year-old’s death earlier this month is one in a string of high profile killings of women on the tiny dual-island Caribbean nation of 1.3 million people. The murders have raised such alarm that Trinidad and Tobago’s prime minister felt compelled to weigh in on a national conversation about male domination and a culture of violence.

“You called on the Prime Minister to do something about crime. I am not in your bedroom, I am not in your choice of men,” Keith Rowley said, expressing concern that about one third of the 52 murders police have recorded so far this year were related to domestic violence. Other groups say the numbers are even higher.

Women’s groups swiftly accused Rowley of victim-blaming, prompting a backlash in local and social media. Rowley defended himself, saying his comments were taken out of context.

But the prime minister’s statement mirrors the ongoing debate in society over who should take responsibility for issues surrounding domestic violence and attitudes toward women.  Both advocacy groups and government institutions have called for better socialisation of young men and boys.

The Stream examines the social and cultural issues driving domestic violence in Trinidad and Tobago, and what steps are needed to address the problem.

In this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Gillian Wall @gillianwall_ibb
Founder, Powerful Ladies of Trinidad and Tobago (PLOTT)

Gabrielle Hosein @gabriellehosein
Head, Institute for Gender and Development Studies, University of The West Indies

Peter Weller @Champsforchange
Clinical Psychologist, Founder of Caribbean Man Action network “CariMAN”

Rhondall Feeles @SingleFatherTT
Founder & President, Single Fathers Association Of Trinidad & Tobago
Single Fathers Association Of Trinidad & Tobago

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