Policing Domestic Violence: Context, Status and Prospects

Paper presented by Dr Janice Jackson (and presented here with her permission) at the 24th Annual General Meeting and Conference of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police, Georgetown, Guyana March 2009 Introduction The silence is broken. Screams are heard. People are dying. Children are crying. Questions arise. Who hears the noise? Who recognizes the pain? Whose business is it? Who chooses to take action? Is the silence really broken? What about those who paint their faces with a smile? What about those who serve the needs of others willingly? What about those who go to work or school every day, on time? Who knows what their true experience is in the place which should be safe, that place called home? These are but some of the questions which need to be examined as the reality of domestic violence is considered. They point to the fact that this scourge exists in an environment in which, despite the evidence of its occurrence, the response continues to be inadequate. They resonate with angst because the efforts at working to reduce the incidence of domestic violence seem to be making little difference. The word is out yet many continue to blame others for not taking appropriate action without addressing what they can do to stem the tide. The eye is often on the visible minority – the police. What must be brought to the centre of the stage is that by the time domestic violence reaches the attention of the police, a crime has already occurred. This, of course, does not absolve the police from responding immediately and appropriately. That they must do. But some questions must be asked. Who knew about the problem? Relatives? Neighbours? Friends? Religious leaders? Community leaders? Employers? What did they do? What could they do? This paper seeks to address the context in which domestic violence occurs, the status of recognition and action to promote positive change and the prospects for the police as they strive to be effective partners in the process of transformation at an organizational level, in the supporting structures and in the lives of the citizens whom they serve and should protect. It benefits from the experience of many years of association with the Guyana Police Force and non-governmental organizations as they sought to prepare a landscape in which the interests of survivors of domestic violence could be appropriately served and the incidence of such behaviour reduced.

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Extracts from 2012 Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights on Women and Children197 KB
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