Home Letters How will these victims gain access to Magistrates, Judges?
The Sexual Offences Act provides for police officers to be charged if they fail to institute charges against a suspect three months after a complaint was made and if they delay in seeking advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions. What about victims who claim that instead of taking their complaints, Police ridicule and insult them? In any case, why has no police been charged as there are many cases of refusal to institute charges or delaying them?
As well, it was widely reported in the media that if Police do not take the complaints of victims of gender-based violence, such victims can report directly to a Magistrate. However, no one has revealed any mechanism through which this would be facilitated, given that an individual cannot simply walk up to a Magistrate. Magistrates and Judges have gatekeepers, who are usually police officers. They would inquire of victims the reason these victims want to speak to the Judiciary and they would never allow anyone access to a Judge or Magistrate if they are told that the person is a victim of abuse who wants to let the Judge or Magistrate know that Police refused to take complaints and/or act on such complaints.
TCV is aware of many victims who have revealed the ridicule and insults they suffered at the hands of Police when they went to report abuse. In fact, we even know of situations where money changed hands (bribe-taking by Police) so that Police would do nothing. It has gotten so bad that many victims now refuse to go to the police, but instead come directly to TCV or other stakeholders for help. So the question remains, how will these victims gain access to Magistrates and Judges.
Vinetta Headley-James, the 44-year-old mother of eight, recently murdered by her husband of 26 years, had been suffering years of abuse. In the media, a neighbour was quoted as “counseling her”. The Caribbean Voice and other stakeholders have emphasised over and over that only those who are professionally qualified and clinically experienced can counsel. Anyone else who attempts to do so can cause greater harm. We recall the case of a young lady, earlier this year, who ended up dying by suicide a couple of days after she started receiving counselling by one such quack. As well, we have also offered an expert to the Government to help set up protocols to license counsellors, so quacks and make-believe counsellors would face the full force of the law for their pretence. That offer is still open.
Finally, anyone who has lived with an abuser must know that the abuser can easily be triggered to murder and should, therefore, as a matter of self-protection, desist from any such acts while still living with the abuser. One has to wonder, therefore, why did the victim dump the clothes of the abuser in the yard. Who would have ‘counselled’ her to do that?
The Caribbean Voice