For many years hundreds of domestic violence, rape and sexual assaults have been dealt with as a crime that can be forgiven and forgotten. Perhaps it is because 99% of the time it is women and children who fall victim to these atrocious crimes, and so it wasn’t taken too seriously. Perhaps because in society’s view the women or the young girl deserved it. Perhaps we have been quick to offer excuses such as alcohol, drugs, family pressure. Perhaps it is viewed as simply not a crime at all?
More than 80% of the clients received at the WCCC have reported that family pressure, community pressure and pressure from those in authority to reconcile coupled with social and economic pressures have forced female victims into reconciliation with the overall goal of dropping the charges made against her violent husband, partner or male perpetrator – preventing the case from reaching court.
The newly released Ministry of Police Statistics indicate that since the year 2000, 2,753 women have reported physical abuse. Less than half of those – 1304 (47%) have ended up in convictions. Perhaps this is a clear indication that society is still steeped in the belief that re-uniting the relationship should be the focus and on the other hand it could be a sign of actual conviction rates improving – the problem is that we haven’t got past statistics specifically on domestic violence to make a more thorough analysis. In saying that it will also be interesting to see how much has changed with reporting and convictions following the implementation of the No Drop Policy at the Ministry of Police over the next five years.
One of the priorities of the WCCC over the next five years is to contribute towards more evidence based research, disaggregated statistics and data from all agencies involved so that we can get a much clearer picture on what is improving and what is not improving. We urge all agencies to make this their priority as well.