The missing data from domestic violence talk

THE EDITOR: The 16 Days of Activism which followed International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25) highlighted many important issues and challenges. However, what was missing from nearly all the articles and discussions was recent data on domestic violence, with the most common citation taken from the 2017 IDB Survey on Women’s Health that one in three women in TT have experienced some form of abuse in their lifetime. But what is the actual prevalence of domestic violence in recent months?

The AllWrite Company obtained data prepared by the ever-efficient Crime and Problem Analysis (CAPA) branch of the Police Service between January 1 and August 31. In that period, CAPA recorded 739 victims of domestic violence. Of these, 590 (80 per cent) were women.

The most common type of domestic violence offence was assault by beating, which accounted for 58 per cent of all incidents. Homicide accounted for four per cent of domestic violence incidents.googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1530739344582-8′); });

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The annual report of the Judiciary recorded 8,232 new domestic violence cases filed between July 31, 2017 and July 31, 2018. This constitutes six per cent of all people in relationships. An average of 9,000 such cases are filed every year. Approximately 400 protection orders are requested annually, with 79 per cent of orders being granted within a year. Just over one-third of domestic violence cases are dismissed, while 29 per cent are upheld.

In terms of race, 255 victims were of African descent, and 292 of East Indian descent. However, although more Indo women are assaulted in total, the rate of domestic violence is higher among Afro-Trinidadians, since fewer Afro women (just under 53,000) are in relationships or ex-relationships compared to Indo women (just over 85,000). Thus, one in 265 Afro women experience domestic abuse, as compared to one in 425 Indo women who are married, in common-law and visiting relationships, or who are divorced or separated.

This statistic, as well as news reports of women murdered in the past year, contradicts the common claim that the marital home is the most dangerous place for women, since half of Indo women are married as compared to one-third of Afro women.

Most of the women killed in 2018, as well as in recent years, were in common-law or visiting relationships.

It therefore seems that the higher prevalence of crime in the Afro-Trinidadian community encompasses domestic violence as well. CAPA’s data revealed that 72 per cent of all murder victims in 2018 were of African descent.googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1530739344582-7’); });

In respect of age, domestic violence was most prevalent among people in their 30s, accounting for 35 per cent of all incidents. This may be because marital and relationship breakdown is most common among this age group, or because most people begin living together in their 30s, or because of tensions due to aging when sexual attributes decline, or all of these factors.

In this context, it is worth noting that the gender ratio of domestic violence changes with age. Overall, 20 per cent of domestic violence victims are male, save in the category of malicious wounding, where men were equally likely to be victims as women. But, after the age of 60, men are actually more likely to be domestic violence victims than women.

Domestic violence is a multi-faceted and complex phenomenon. Activism on this front must therefore be informed by hard data and not confined to moral exhortations.

JOANNAH BHAROSE

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CEO, The AllWrite Company

Source: Newsday https://newsday.co.tt/2018/12/19/the-missing-data-from-domestic-violence-talk/

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