Domestic violence cases in the country have increased, according to President of the Bahamas Crisis Centre Dr. Sandra Dean-Patterson.
Dr. Dean-Patterson said yesterday that for the first six months of the year, 1,200 abuse cases have been referred to the centre. Domestic violence accounts for the lion share of those incidents.
However, she did not give specific numbers for the incidents.
The non-profit organisation is hopeful that it can arrest the growing social ill.
To this end, Dr. Dean-Patterson has launched a campaign for Bahamians to take control of their homes and curb domestic violence.
“The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people. What happens in our homes and the emotional climate in which our children live initiates the ruin of the people and peace in the country begins with peace in the home,” she said.
“With this in mind we want to launch an attack on domestic violence at its root, making Bahamians, both male and females, aware of how to prevent and protect themselves from domestic violence.”
Most critical in the centre’s fight against domestic violence, she said, is ensuring that Bahamians are aware of the Domestic Violence Protection Order Act.
In 2007, the government passed legislature to protect domestic violence victims, but according to attorney and Crisis Centre volunteer Cleopatra Christie, most times victims aren’t even aware of the legislation and its benefits.
“This piece of legislation defines what domestic violence is so you don’t have to guess what it is. It speaks to emotional and physical [abuse], harassment, stalking and destroying the property of victims. It’s very wide and encompassing in regards to all of the things we usually hear about in relation to domestic violence,” Mrs. Christie explained.
Men and women who find themselves being abused within the home are encouraged to take advantage of the Protection Act, which not only expedites the process of fighting back via the court, but also provides police with a wide range of powers to act on behalf of victims.
The Crisis Centre is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and as a result, is planning a mega peace conference for September to raise awareness about domestic violence.
“We’ve invited Caribbean delegates from all the crisis centres from around the region, so we will have these officers from around the region coming together in September for three days to brainstorm and look at what is happening in our countries and the commonalities between us. We also want to identify best practices for combating domestic violence and really begin to make a difference,” Dr. Dean-Patterson said.
“This conference will not only provide an opportunity for retooling and energising those who work in the area of gender based violence, but we also intend to use it as a catalyst to create and nurture a movement of peace throughout the region.”
Before the peace conference rolls around in mid-September, the Crisis Centre will host a fun, run, walk event on July 21.