BRADES, Montserrat – The church community on Montserrat must become more vocal and stand up against the increasing levels of violence against women, says author and entrepreneur Nerissa Golden.
Golden was speaking on the eve of International Women’s Day and days after a woman was violently killed by her partner on Montserrat.
“In recent months we’ve had a total of four rapes and this murder which is unheard of here,” she said. “It is not just a problem for our police force but all sectors of society must be willing to increase their efforts to support our women.”
According to the World Bank, one in three women will be exposed to and experience gender-based violence in her lifetime, a problem that cuts across all religious groups, classes and cultures.
Golden, who is the author of Truly Caribbean Woman’s Guide to Good Love and The Making of a Caribbeanpreneur said the silence from the churches is deafening when it comes to crimes against women. “Women have always been the foundation and continue to be the backbone of our churches. If our churches are not standing up for and with our women then who will?”
“Montserrat represents itself as a Christian nation and the complexity of how to deal with women who report that their husbands or partners are abusing them within the context of a church’s position on abuse and divorce does present a challenge for many organisations. We cannot encourage our women to stay in relationships that are unhealthy for them. To do so is to send the wrong message to our children about what love and good relationships look like and also what God desires for each of us.”
Golden, who is the mother of four and a domestic violence survivor, added that women must also be willing to stand up for themselves and to ask for help. “We are trained to keep quiet and keep private things private but violence is not just a family issue but a community problem. In asking other women about what resources are available for them, most cannot name any women’s groups on island or who they would need to contact if there was an emergency. Our women must know who they can turn to for help when they encounter problems such as violence in their home.”
Over the next few weeks, Golden said she will be sharing more of her personal story and also tips on how women can begin to make better choices to avoid violent relationships or get out of them. You can read more about her challenges to move on after domestic violence at www.trulycaribbean.net.