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Oct 14, 2020

National Women’s Commission on Authorities’ Response to Domestic Violence

The issue of domestic violence is rearing its ugly head again following the murder of the San Pedro mother of one.  Marisela Gonzalez was cold-bloodedly shot to head and her body discarded at a garbage site on the island of San Pedro. Her husband is in custody and is being charged for this wife’s murder.  Instances of domestic violence are known to escalate and end violently in murder. Domestic violence is still, for the most part, seen as a private issue and many victims remain silent. Executive Director of the National Women’s Commission Cynthia Williams says that the victims need to know that there are support mechanisms in place when they are ready to leave the perpetrators of the abuse.


Cynthia Williams

Cynthia Williams, Executive Director, National Women’s Commission

“In many instances, in many ways, the issue of domestic violence is considered a private issue where a lot of neighbours, even family members, friends still think that it is better for them not to be involved because at the end of the day, the person will go back. And even though that may happen, I think it is very critical for that support not to be withdrawn and for them to be able to know that at one point if they choose to report again or to remove themselves from that situation that they will have that support. The issue of domestic violence brings a lot of shame, a lot of guilt, but we also have to understand the emotional connections that those persons still have with their perpetrators.  I think a big aspect of it is also the way authorities respond. If authorities respond in a way that is respectful, in a way that is compassionate and maintains the dignity of the individual, no matter who that person is, the person would most likely be more willing to make reports, more willing to come forward. But if the service that they receive is not one that tries to understand where they are coming from at the time when they are making the report, then the person will not come back. So looking at whenever anybody goes and make a report to any of the duty bearers that provide services—whether it be medical, whether it be the judicial, from the police or even from the Ministry of Human Development—now we have developed the gender based violence complaint mechanism that provides the opportunities for person to make reports from an organization that does not provide service. So it is the trust that people have in the system also plays a big importance in how well and how willing people are in coming forward.”

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