Another prominent attorney who has spoken out against domestic violence in Belize is Audrey Matura. She has herself taken up many cases of domestic violence and today she spoke about the social ills that have affected hundreds of women in Belize and the challenges that women face when they try to get out.
Audrey Matura – Attorney
“Well I have a problem on a whole on how we manage and use domestic violence for several reasons: one we tend to be reactionary. A major event like this happened and a lot of people have an opinion and the say something and they do something but that conversation shouldn’t be happening. Two it’s like you said many times those people close by know already wants happening friends, family know and they don’t want to interfere on that which is so strange because Belizean society on a whole they are very interfering so conveniently they don’t want to interfere but my opinion and this is just my opinion is the reason many don’t interfere is because they themselves have be traumatized by abuse either while they were young or themselves are in an abusive relationship or for example when people go to the police station or even the courts or even seek social services you are going to the very same people who most of them who have been victim to abuse themselves or are abusers, I mean it’s not to put the police officers down but a lot of police officers abuse their loved ones, their wives, pull guns on them but you don’t hear about it because when you go report it at the station you can’t even get results, I mean I have clients that are married to officers and they say Ms. I can’t even get a police report, some of them just like willing to just leave and leave everything behind for the sanity of themselves and the safety of the lives of themselves and their children so that is another reason why it cannot be managed well.”
Matura says the judicial system in Belize continues to fail women.
Audrey Matura – Attorney
“We literally don’t have the structure and system and services in place, I’ve seen instances where although we have domestic violence unit and it’s not to put down the people that are there, they are not trained properly to understand abuse you know; if the person come there beat up and so they understand that kind of abuse but they cannot understand the abuse and appreciate what is the psychological, emotional abuse that people come with. They cannot understand how to deal with those people or they get frustrated because the person get back and come back but that is the cycle of abuse, you don’t break away from your abuser immediately and those are the kind of conversations I want to have because I think it’s the education that we need to have, the recognition that we need to have. We’ve all been abused at some point in our lives or we’ve become and abuser at some point because you have to understand that abuse always has a pecking order. The other concern I have on how we deal with abuse it that; I work in the court system and unfortunately in the court system many of the people are front lined or even the Judges or Magistrates that you have to deal with and mostly magistrates in the districts deal with at the family courts is that they can’t handle the issue not because they don’t want to its the training for you to deal with abuse for you to deal with domestic violence you have to understand how to deal and understand what is domestic violence. You go before certain Magistrates and they could tell you immediately that oh you deserve to get an order because I could see the bruises but go and tell them how your husband tells you things for the past years and it keeps going and going and some of them say and you stay there with all of that? And some of them have an attitude and I have seen it or you’ve had Magistrates because they’ve had their own personal abuse their reaction is different so its not to put those people down but it’s to tell you that they very system itself, the people you go to many times can’t appreciate what is abuse because it’s not something that you could just tangibly hold, it’s a whole concept its understanding a whole system its understanding how it develops over the years.”
We will continue the discussion on domestic violence in the days ahead.