When we talk about murder rates we rarely ever separate the causes. Some range from gang rivalry, drunken behavior and some from domestic violence. In Belize, we have seen many children losing parents due to home affairs that eventually escalate and turn fatal. At the start of the year, one woman, 33-year-old, Anita Pineda was killed in western Belize, by her ex-lover. Senior Police officers have noted on more occasions than one that crimes stemming from domestic violence are the ones hardest to prevent. While many have lobbied for a plan to end domestic violence; while many have embarked on initiatives to stop the abuse, today is seeing the first forum on domestic violence spearheaded by a municipal leader. Mayor Bernard Wagner and the Belize City Coucillors are currently at the Swift Hall engaging in a forum that hopefully, will be the launchpad for more concrete and result-oriented actions.
Dr. Candice Pitts Counselor: “The Belize City Council has as well has been about serving the residents of the city and addressing their various needs and concerns and as we know domestic violence, gender based violence and violence period has been a pervasive issue in our society and so we at the Belize City Council believe that we had to play our part in ensuring that this issue stays at the forefront of our social and political consciousness and that we assume collective responsibility in improving measures or creating new measures to help empower and protect people who are affected by violence in this city.
Dalila Ical: “When you talk about measures what exactly that you are speaking? Is legislation? is it safe house for women? What exactly are we talking about.
Dr. Candice Pitts Counselor: “And one of the important benefits of this conference is that we continue to discuss this topic because many people don’t have a really clear understanding of what is domestic violence that is the first issue. The second point is that during these discussions we get to learn about what is taking place in these different official offices in this city for instance the Vice President of Haven House brought to our attention that Haven House is the only safety house in this city or country. She mentioned perhaps that there is another one in Cayo and if we have such a pervasive social issue or social disease such as domestic violence and you only have one safety house that can accomodate maybe ten families then there are some serious limitations there so you know this is what this conference does it brings to light some of these issues that we can address as a society so want to continue to educate and inform and as I have mentioned many people are unaware of what really is domestic violence and what it constitutes. This is the first conference and indeed my hope I know that we are city based but my hope is that this can be delivered in the villages and the other districts because can you imagine what takes place in a village where there is only one Police Station or in a village where the Police is in the other village or where the Police is the abuser so I think this is a very important discussion that we need to keep at the forefront of our social and political consciousness.”
The forum ends at seven o’clock tonight. Some of the guest speakers include police officers, Attorney Lisa Shoman, Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, Carolyn Trench-Sandiford and representatives from the Human Development office. We will have more on this event in tomorrow’s newscast.