Domestic violence occurs within a number of homes in Belize and while women are usually the victims, that is not always the case. It is sad that one who loves another so intimately can then commit such violence acts against that person. In Belize we have seen it happen far too often. Just this month alone, there have been two women who have died at the hands of their partners, Roxanne Pop and Mariela Rodriguez and one additional case where a man shot his wife but she survived. Love News asked Taheerah Usher, the Human Development Coordinator for the Women’s Department why domestic violence is a deadly issue in Belize.
Taheerah Usher – Human Development Coordinator, Women’s Department: In 2016 there was a report on Gender Based Violence that was commissioned by our Ministry of Human Development to explore the prevalence and frequency of domestic violence and gender based violence in Belize. It basically looked at factors from different perspectives whether it is the individual or the community level. From the perpetrator or the victim in terms of alcoholism, drug use. There are instances when alcohol and drugs do play an important role. You would find that the woman would come in and report that he beat me last night because he was under the influence. He came home and he had been drinking or he had been smoking. On the victims side; victims having early exposure to violence themselves for example witnessing their mother being beaten and them internalizing it and either being a perpetrator or a victim themselves when they grow up. As well as I think cultural and traditional values that promote this idea of women being inferior and women being submissive to men and the imbalance of power between men and women and how these create perception of how men are supposed to treat women and how women supposed to obey or be disempowered to men.
Usher said that the 2016 report which focused on Stann Creek and the Orange Walk Districts revealed that one in every five women in Belize has experienced domestic violence.