The timing might not be right, I get it.
If not now, when?
This is an old story, I get it. However, there are always new victims.
They have already been punished, I get that! However, the pain never stops.
The victim went back with him. Could it be lack of support, and fear?
He needs second chance. That is important, and so do others.
The network is not the world’s police, rightfully so
There are many other things to talk about, will do
Missed Opportunity: This year several personal and business resolutions have been missed. No one for sure can predict which story will dominate this year’s headlines. However, if history is our guide, despite today’s cynicism and, and lack of trust in government and leadership, many communities should be focusing on policies and resources for several women who will become victims this year. This issue affects extended family, neighbours, schools, and friends; the list goes on.
Late November 2014, many tuned into the Soul Train music award on Black Entertainment (BET), and Centric TV. My interest was to see Kool and the Gang receive a lifetime award for 50 years in the industry and not the glamour, fashion, music critics, and chatter about who came with whom. After the show ended, the telephone rang. “His appearance and platform brought back memories of Rhianna’s face,” they stated. What if Chris Brown made a statement that said “violence against women is wrong” before his performance; would that have changed anything?” You might not agree for the reasons outlined earlier.
However, this is not about Chris Brown, who assaulted Rhianna few years earlier. It is about millions of young teenagers, especially women who normally tune-in to watch the show. What is certain, one in five women who perhaps sat and watched these events is a victim or knows and/or saw an abused person, raped, coerced into sex, or otherwise during her lifetime. In addition, nearly one in five teenage girls have been in a relationship where a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup, according to the Washington Coalition against Violence. Even the US Army has seen an increase in sexual assault in 2014.
Domestic violence stretches beyond a sound stage, and especially in the Caribbean where silence tends to morph as the laid back atmosphere while case numbers are staggering, gushing up against women faces like the ocean. The Trinidad Express reported about 11,382 domestic violence cases filed two years earlier. In Jamaica, research has shown over 9,000, and 300 sexual assaults cases reported in the same year. Today, I also wonder what if international soca superstar Machel Montano from Trinidad and Tobago, who received an award, and Jamaica’s Tessanne Chin, former winner of the Voice USA, were given a chance highlight more awareness.
Responsibility: These television networks also have been instrumental on many social awareness of importance issues, such as AIDS, drugs, wars, voting, marriage equality that transcends across borders. It is clear from seeing first-hand the influence these networks have, from technology, fashion, social and political in poor and developing countries. This year more cameras should be used to make domestic violence an unconformable topic in these regions where it remains a serious issue. The implication here is not that every award function and performers are responsible for crimes committed against women, nor one should one be forced to place a permanent disclaimer on the television screen about domestic violence at each event. Nevertheless, with success comes responsibility.
Domestic violence is an epidemic. It must be treated as a national issue such as the murder rate that is high per-capita in some of the countries in the region. Although it is still an uphill battle, combined with constant images plastered in music videos and other settings that promotes a tunnel vision of female beauty. Nevertheless, more women are using their academic achievements and making a huge difference. They are now surpassing men in college degrees. Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases, including everything from autos to health-care. Seventy-five percent of women identify themselves as the primary shoppers for their households; $90 billion of consumer electronic purchases according to several studies. If she decides to tune out, my products will not be sold.
The Impact: The year 2015 should be about the possible, and not what is popular. Many more global award shows will be on schedule from the Carnival, Reggae Sun Splash, Grammy, Super Bowl, the Golden Globe, and the Oscars. Other networks will continue to search for the “Big Get” to interview another high profile domestic violence case. These “Gets” sometimes creates the wrong impression that, because the perpetrators and the victim are rich and famous, it can be fixed immediately. The reality is that, re-victimization is silent while a television rating gets loud. A powerful abuser can be charming. The victim often believes it is just a one-time occurrence. Unfortunately, many times these big stories are simple a prepared speech.
In an email to me, she wrote, while living in the Caribbean during the 1960s, she suffered years of domestic abuse by her first husband who raped and punched repeatedly even in his sleep. Immediately, he would apologize. When she reported the to the local police department with signs of an abuse; the police shrugged it off, and told her, “She must have done him something”. She also recalled a co-worker who used heavy make-up to hide her bruises, and a friend she lost when her husband severed her head.
Far too often it seems media pundits cannot resist overtime drive for an outcome of this violence, rather than focusing on the cause. The victim’s support is paramount, especially to escape an abusive relationship. The fear of financial hardship and of losing their children, and safety concerns, combined with the lack of support remain a hurdle. Remaining silent because of shame has to be debunked. This only leads to more abuse. Domestic violence, rape, murder, and other crimes have left many hearts broken in 2014. These incidents seem to have become a normal way of life as perpetrators continue to commit more crimes.
The Disconnect: One would hope a victim’s race, colour, sexual orientation, economic status, or nationality does not diminish this problem in 2015, and beyond. The lens by which some see this epidemic only promotes more intolerance, which is as dangerous as the act itself. For example: “what I called the location gay” Inside this gay, lesbian, and transgender community, despite the fight for equality for all, one’s socio-economic status remains a barrier sometimes for inclusion.
The xenophobia of domestic violence excusing criminal behaviour must be stopped and is extremely troubling. When pop superstar Rhianna became a victim, her Barbadian nationality became more important than the abuse itself. One lady suggested that “the Caribbean bitch probably put some roots on him. She was too much in love with this America boy, and do not understand the culture that he needed space.” Another, “He better watch himself, those island women are crazy.” And he just smacked down the Caribbean.
I get it again, millions of records sold. I get it again, it’s record sales, stupid!
When does it become a crime? A woman who has been punched in Barbados or in Boston should not make a difference, it hurts anywhere. Furthermore, the narrative has to change, as many pundits would like to believe that only black men and the black community are associated with domestic violence cases. Domestic violence affects everyone. Stop the Violence Against Women, an advocate group, compiled a list of studies from the United Kingdom, which quantified pain and suffering costs as well as the costs of services used by victims and the reduction in economic output due to domestic abuse, and concluded that domestic violence costs people, the state, and businesses about $23 billion. Sometimes, given the slow responses to other epidemics and other social issues, optimism remains elusive.
Keeping the Focus: New events have a way of taking over the news cycle: For example, the grand juries’ decisions not indict two police officers, one in St Louis, Missouri, after the shooting of an unarmed young black male, and Eric Garner’s death in New York. The assassination of two York city officers. However, the US is not alone. Several parts of the Caribbean have seen their share of fallen officers. The Taliban killed over 100 young students in Pakistan for seeking an education, Boko Haram stepped up its attack in Nigeria, gas price at a record low, the president approval numbers have gone up, and Cuba now has a new friend, the US, the economy has rebounded, and so society moved on.
These geopolitical, criminal, economic, and social issues are important to discuss, but unfortunately, domestic violence awareness quietly diminished from airwaves. Putting off this subject is as dangerous, as many women who stayed in their toxic relationships for decades. Such as Santa’s wish, domestic violence focus has to become prime time like Scandal, Days of Our Lives, or Downton Abbey popular television shows. This topic cannot be highlighted if only the elites are involved. For many parts of the world, it is a major problem, and perpetrators are going unpunished and unnoticed.
Finally: It is critical that more local and international artistes use their platforms to spread awareness. When women lose their trust in the judicial system, it creates silence. This year, the mentality of a few will not change who believe that women are to be seen and not heard. Gender bias will not disappear. Many abusers will compete again; show up at your local concerts. Millions of young women will be screening, and even you will dance. The hope is at least a few will show up with a picture of the abused women and families killed. Domestic violence cannot be a missed opportunity.
“I was guilty too because this article should have been published earlier.”