Victims of gender-based violence need to do more to hold their abusers accountable, or they too will end up being just another statistic, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams said this week.
The recent murder of Calcutta resident Tracy Thompson at the hands of her common-law husband Devon Logan as well as the brazen attack on Vanessa Reyes by her former common-law husband Christon Roca in Placencia has, once more, brought to the forefront the need for more intervention on the part of authorities.
However, Williams, speaking with the media, shared that in the case of Thompson she had reportedly filed charges against Logan before, however, she later withdrew those statements against him, and in some instances requested that she did not want any court action.
“This is why I have always said to victims of domestic violence, you need to make a stop yourself. There's only so much the police can do, because if it is you go to the police and say, you don't want court action then the police will not pursue it,” he explained.
Williams further claimed that while not every case of domestic violence is brought to his attention, once it is then he would usually direct his officers to pursue the matter against the accused with or without the victim's consent. Once the matter reaches the court then the victim would need to present herself to the court and explain to the sitting magistrate why she wants the charges to be dropped. That would then allow authorities some semblance of peace that they did enough to intervene in the matter said, Williams.
“When you are being abused by your spouse, particularly women who are being abused, you cannot sit back and allow your abuser to continue. It will eventually turn out to be you being buried. We have to, at some point, take a stand and say enough is enough and women need to make that stand. Yes, you might feel there is no way out, and certainly, there is a way out. We have many organizations in Belize that are willing to assist women who are victims of domestic violence and we need to ensure that we use every avenue,” ended Williams.
While statistics for the period January to December 2021 revealed that domestic violence reports countrywide had declined, the number of reports made for “future reference” also increased. In total 2,362 domestic violence complaints were lodged last year, compared to 2,419 that were lodged for the previous year. Of last year's figures, only 885 of those reports were converted into actual cases. In both years 11 of those victims were murdered