There is no ‘ethnic impetus’ with regards to domestic abuse – Caribbean Voice

From Caribbean Voice – A registered tax exempt NGO

With respect to a recent letter in the Guyana media, The Caribbean Voice (TCV) categorically and emphatically states that there is no ‘ethnic impetus’ for domestic violence. There never has been and anyone familiar with the literature will know that no research, survey, poll or study has ever found ‘ethnic impetus’ for domestic violence.

The letter cited a recent article in the Stabroek News, by Queens, New York City based lawyer and activist, Aminta Khilawan, and then stated “I believe she did not go far enough in capturing the racial elements in cases of domestic violence, suicide and abuse among Guyanese.”             

The fact is that Aminta’s article focused on the Indo-Caribbean community in New York City, more specifically Queens. So naturally all her references would be located within that focus. She was addressing the problem within the Indo Caribbean community in New York City, not “capturing the racial elements in cases of domestic violence, suicide and abuse among Guyanese”.

In fact, a look at the statistics in the US will reveal that Blacks are most likely to experience domestic abuse, followed by Hispanics, then Whites. Asians (including Indo Americans) are least likely to experience domestic abuse. But then 40% of police officer families experience domestic violence, in contrast to 10% of families in the general population. And do note that 77.7% of police officers are whites. As well a content analysis of the US media will reveal that vast majority of domestic abuse cases in the police force have to do with whites.

As well, another letter writer, UWI’s Dr. Kean Gibson, rather shockingly suggests that creation myths and cultural practices that no longer hold sway drive gender based violence in contemporary times.

The fact is that the root causes of domestic violence are the same globally as are the risk factors, although they may be manifested differently in different societies. Domestic abuse is the result of gender inequality and inequitable gender power relations and abusers are fueled by the culture of patriarchy and their desire to assert power and control. In effect “violence is part of a system of coercive controls through which men maintain societal dominance over women” (Anderson 1997: 655).

“Rape and domestic violence, for example, can be seen as the effect of social structures that situate men in a hierarchical relation to women and to each other according to historical forms of social differentiation” (Ingraham 1994: 205)

“Marital power is derived from the amount of resources (e.g., income, education, and communication skills), and when one partner lacks resources, violence is used to maintain and restore a sense of power in the relationship” (Ronfeldt, Kimerling & Arias 1998: 71).

A man in a highly patriarchal society who feels that he cannot prove his masculinity through legitimate means, i.e. being the breadwinner for his family, may attempt to prove his masculinity through violence. In his 1971 study, Goode “argued that individuals lacking other means of power, income or educational status, will be more likely to rely on violence to achieve greater power within a relationship” (Andersone 1997: 656).

Risk factors for gender based violence include low education levels, a history of child maltreatment, exposure to domestic violence against their mothers, harmful use of alcohol, unequal gender norms including attitudes accepting of violence, a sense of entitlement over women, abuse during childhood, attitudes accepting violence, male privilege, women’s subordinate status, alcohol and drug use, unemployment and poverty, weak community sanctions against violence, stress and depression, dysfunctional relationships and emotional dependence and insecurity.

The latest figures (2018) for global rates of domestic violence lists the following top fifteen nations: Namibia, Guinea, Gabon, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Congo, Cameroon, Uganda, Rawanda, Haiti, Tanzania, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Bangladesh Ghana. These are followed (in no specific order) by Chad, Afghanistan, Sudan, Guatemala, Mali, Somalia, India, Pakistan, Iraq, Russia. A look at the ethno-differentiation among these nations will clearly debunk any assertion about ‘ethnic impetus’ for domestic abuse.

It would seem then that if one group in a society does indicate a higher prevalence of DV, then that group would obviously be characterized to a greater extent by the root causes and risk factors, none of which have anything to do with ethnic impetus or ’racial elements’. In fact, currently in Guyana, the group that has the highest rate of domestic abuse is the Amerindians for many and varied reasons including the rupturing of their cultural bedrock and traditional way of life resulting in an array of risk factors that did not previously exist as well as the creation of a deepening gender inequity.

The Caribbean Voice urges those who want to write about issues like domestic violence to please get the facts as the only way that these issues can be addressed is through evidence based prevention measures. Thus perpetrating myths, misinformation and baseless opinions not only make harder the work of prevention groups but also compounds the entire issue.

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  • kamtanblog  On December 29, 2019 at 1:54 am

    Domestic violence has its origins from
    as far back as “origins of the species”
    Apeman/caveman days. Humanoids
    have evolved over the centuries and with
    that DV with it. Today it is not as prevalent
    in developed societies as the under/ undeveloped ones.
    To argue that it is a “racial” more than a
    social one is futile. Red herring !
    DV will decrease in time but helped by
    Eco/social decisions of the political class
    /leaders we elect. Political decisions with
    economic ramifications. More to do with
    class than racial differences in societies.

    In my opinion

    Kamtan 🇬🇧🇬🇾🇪🇸🇬🇧👽

    • Trevor  On December 31, 2019 at 11:04 am

      Why aren’t I allowed to state that the rum shop is responsible for domestic violence?

      • caribvoice  On December 31, 2019 at 12:48 pm

        Because alcohol is not a root cause for DV; its a trigger and not the only one. In fact As the article states DV is about the need for control and power on the part of the abuser and is fostered by gender inequality. IN fact the vast majority of those who drink are not abusers and the vast majority of abuse is not triggered by alcohol. You can do the research yourself on this.

      • kamtanblog  On December 31, 2019 at 12:57 pm

        Point taken is not the only/main
        reason for DV.
        However alcohol is a contributory factor.
        Hence suggestion to up the age of legality
        from 18 to 21…then observe increase/ decrease
        of DV.

        Way forward


      • caribvoice  On December 31, 2019 at 3:46 pm

        Upping the age is a good thing always but that would have no effect on DV. 95% of all abusers are over 21. And again alcohol is not a cause of abuse. If someone is an abuser he will abuse with or without abuse. And if someone is not an abuser, alcohol will not make him an abuser. Perhaps this article will fill you in. this article will fill you in.

  • caribvoice  On December 31, 2019 at 5:26 am

    “Today it is not as prevalent in developed societies as the under/ undeveloped ones.”
    Not totally true. Rates are calculated on a per capita basis. But in terms of actual numbers the US and most developed nations are at the very top.

    • Trevor  On December 31, 2019 at 11:02 am

      You sure? How many African-American men & their families during Jim Crow were hung from trees because a white woman lied that he made her feel unsafe?

      The White woman is treated like a God in AmeriKKKa, no surprise.

      And who own the rum shops across the Caribbean? Buddhists?

      • kamtanblog  On December 31, 2019 at 12:00 pm

        Agree alcohol and DV are closely linked.
        Rum shop or pub mentality still exists today. However that is changing
        as pubs are becoming more family friendly places to visit.
        Rum shops may also need to change
        to address those issues….where mostly men go to have a drink 🥃
        Underage drinking another problem/issue.
        Maybe change age to 21 for starters.


  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On December 31, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    Who owns ALL TYPES of shops in the Caribbean?

    What we see in Trevor’s question is result of a restricted intellect.

    As the article rightly states: “The fact is that Aminta’s article focused on the Indo-Caribbean community in New York City, more specifically Queens. So naturally all her references would be located within that focus. She was addressing the problem within the Indo Caribbean community in New York City, not “capturing the racial elements in cases of domestic violence, suicide and abuse among [ALL] Guyanese”.

    Veda NM.

    • Trevor  On December 31, 2019 at 1:50 pm

      The rum shop is where the domestic violence starts. Ask any domestic violence victim and she will say that when the man drunk is when they start beating up.

      • Emanuel  On December 31, 2019 at 3:08 pm

        The article states the the Amerindians have the highest rate of domestic violence in Guyana, not the Indo or Afro. That is revealing if true. But I don’t think Amerindians are the holders of the highest DV rate in Guyana.

      • caribvoice  On December 31, 2019 at 3:47 pm

        The man who beats will beat, drunk or sober. The man who does not beat will not beat, drunk or sober.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On January 5, 2020 at 11:25 pm

    This edifying response to UWI’s prof Kean Gibson’s benighted understanding of Hinduism should be read. Back in 2009, I penned a book rebutting said illiteracy subsequent to a group of esteemed Hindu Guyanese, including three PhDs and two senior Guyanese civil servants and myself petitioned UWI about her shabby and unscholarly work on Hinduism – which she deems repressive an genocidal, inter alia. Nevertheless, UWI sees it fit to award her with a professorship – which says a lot about UWI.

    By Stabroek News January 1, 2020
    Dear Editor,
    In her letter, `Not a ‘misunderstanding of caste’ but how to manage ideology’ (SN 22/12/2019), in her usual cavalier and contemptuous style, Professor Kean Gibson claims that the Hindu belief of reincarnation is the cause for suicide among Hindus. But no one who has even the remotest awareness of the trauma of suicide and its aftermath, or even a cursory knowledge of the Hindu understanding of birth and death will trivialize either by saying that Hindus commit suicide because they know it’s “just” and “only” a matter of time before they are born again. However, properly understood and applied the teaching of karma and reincarnation is the greatest deterrence to suicide.

    Hinduism teaches we are all reborn by the force of our previous life at the same juncture, in the same mental and emotional state in which the body was abandoned to continue life’s quest for liberation and the cessation of the cycle of birth and death. A new birth thus gives us a fresh chance to confront and resolve life’s issues and challenges, as much as it represents an opportunity for growth and transformation.

    Those who commit suicide do so in spite of the teaching of karma and reincarnation, and certainly not because of it as Professor Gibson so carelessly asserts. From a Hindu perspective then, there can be no greater deterrence to suicide than the knowledge that we have to come back to face life’s turmoil, old and new, and certainly to welcome new opportunities. Our challenge in life is, “to act that each tomorrow finds us further than today,” in the words of the American poet Longfellow.

    The teaching of karma and reincarnation places the responsibility on the individual for his or her own actions. There is no scapegoat. We are the architect of our own destinies. It also helps us to come to terms with and understand our individual suffering. As a matter of fact, on a larger scale, the belief in karma and reincarnation, is probably the most intellectually satisfying, elegant, and simple idea that can be found in the history of human thought to resolve the age-old problem of why evil and suffering exist in the presence of a loving God.

    To further demonstrate how suicide is antithetical to the spirit of Hinduism, the Gita teaches us that the thoughts and emotions occupying our consciousness at the time of death are a key factor in determining our future. Consequently, we are entreated to remember God at the time of death. By the grace of remembrance at this critical juncture of departure, we attain oneness with the Lord. But this mindfulness of the presence of the divine is not possible if it not a habit of the heart engaging the individual throughout his life.

    By contrast, death by suicide where the individual is seized with fear, anger, delusion, frustration, hate, despair, and regret makes it impossible for a person to so engage himself. It is these thoughts that will determine in what condition he is reborn and it is these thoughts he will have to contend with in the next birth. Suicide is never an escape.

    Hinduism also teaches that all of life – our thoughts, speech and actions – is to be offered to God as an act of worship. A life grounded in selflessness, compassion, truth, and non-injury, a life that is free from clutches of the three-fold evil of greed, anger, and ignorance, is one that becomes a fit offering. A Hindu life is punctuated with numerous sacraments with the final one being the cremation rites in which the corpse itself becomes an offering in the sacred fire. We are therefore required to live in such a way that the body becomes a fit offering.

    In the case of suicide, the sanctity of the body is destroyed and for this reason the texts recommend cremation rites without sacred mantras. Another authority even recommends that the corpse of the suicide be dragged around in the village though this practice has long ceased. All of this, in addition to unambiguously declaring suicide as a great evil, is meant to serve as a deterrence.

    Finally, we are taught that the body is humanity’s greatest inheritance and good fortune. It is to be revered as the doorway to liberation, to the heart of Lord Rama, and who, having earned this body through countless years of austerities, does not use it for the purpose for which it was intended is nothing but an ingrate.
    There is a lot more but suffice it to say that the teachings of Hinduism are a clear deterrence to and prohibition of suicide. It is not, as Professor Gibson callously suggests, that people merrily go on taking their lives because they know it is “just” and “only” a matter of time before they are reborn.

    Yours faithfully,
    Swami Aksharananda

    • kamtanblog  On January 6, 2020 at 1:03 am

      My illiterate grandmother was my mentor/philosopher.
      Absolutely religiously mentally destroyed
      by her belief !
      She was devout brainwashed catholic.

      Religion is but the opium of church synagogue
      mosque temple where religious fagots go to
      get their fix.
      If I wish to talk to go I can do it anywhere…
      Don’t have to go to Rome !

      More souls are lost in wars than in battle of the
      believers/non believers.
      More have lost their lives in the name of god
      than by any other “unnatural” means.
      How many are executed daily in the name
      of their gods…

      I believe in myself first and foremost
      The god in me !
      Also believe in others who share my
      ideology. Not some guy in the sky
      who will save mankind from Armageddon.

      Viv la Vida


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