Trinidad Guardian

Issue No. 1121

Tuesday, August 10, 1999

Men hit back at violence critics

By JOANNE BRIGGS
The Trinidad Guardian

A CRY that the Domestic Violence Bill does not accommodate men who have been abused by women came from members of a forum who attended yesterday's meeting with the Ministers of Legal and Gender Affairs at the Paddock Club House, Queen's Park Savannah.

The meeting, hosted by Legal Affairs Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Gender Affairs Minister Dr Daphne Phillips, was a consultation on the status of the Domestic Violence Bill 1999 and, in particular, Clauses 22 and 23, which involve police intervention with or without a warrant.

Phillips said the Bill has already been passed in the Upper House of Parliament with amendments to increase the checks and balances on police.

The meeting, according to Persad-Bissessar, was to give the Bill "a holistic" approach.

While participants agreed that Clause 23 must be made clearer to specify the type of entry whereby police can access private premises, two men in a group of some 15 women representing groups, including CAFRA, the Rape Crisis Centre, the Family Planning Association, Families in Action and Workingwomen for Social Progress, vented their displeasure that men have been excluded as victims.

Amin-Re, who claims to be a member of the No Hang Commission, Amnesty International and Human Rights International, as well as Citizens Against Legal Murder, objected to listening to men being dragged over the coals.

"It is a woman's world and we are being outnumbered," he cried.

He challenged Supt Winston Cooper, also present at the consultation, to describe a policeman's reaction when a victim of abuse comes to a police station.

"Any police officer in a charge room on duty, when a female walks in... they would question that woman, it may be entered in the station's diary, it may be entered in the Bill diary, he would be given a firearm, he may be given an escort also to accompany the victim to her home after certain complaints. If it was a male, no sir..." Amin-Re declared.

Then he asked all participants: "How many of you all have had the privilege of talking to 92 murderers, 62 who have committed murders of their domestic partner after extreme provocation?

"I know of cases when on Friday nights certain men does get licks because they break the envelope, because she is wife..." he added. [translation: men are hit by their wives because they opened their own pay envelope]

He pleaded: "Give the men a break, don't condemn them."

Copyright 1999 The Trinidad Publishing Company Limited