The first week of January 2020, in Trinidad and Tobago, was ushered in with the deaths of three women at the hands of their estranged spouses.
As I write this four more women were either beaten, shot or chopped to death by the man they once loved and who they thought loved them.
To date nine women have been murdered in my country. Seven of those murders are believed to have been the end result of failed or estranged relationships.
The horrific, not sensational, headlines read as follows:
"Oropuche woman shot dead by ex-lover"
"Triple Murder in Arima"
"Teacher stabbed in front of students"
"Wife murdered in front workplace, husband commits suicide"
"Siparia Mom hacked to death after quarrel"
"Woman beaten to death in Eldorado, Guyanese man held"
"Soured relationship seen behind murder of Trinidad accountant"
And still the only solution the powers that be think to or loudly support is the strengthening of already existing policies that are inadequately protecting the abuse and has yet to truly save a life.
It certainly didn't save the life on one young woman, who armed with a Protection Order (she secured just one week earlier), was stalked and murdered by her estranged and angry husband. According to reports, he had waited for her in the car park of her job, attacked and shot her twice in the head. He then killed himself.
Days before that a triple murder rocked the Eastern community of Pinto Road, Arima, when a young woman, her brother and an uncle, visiting from Canada, were hog-tied and murdered. Reports are that she had been trying to hide from the anger and threats made by her ex boyfriend. Her uncle and brother had simply been trying to protect her from him.
And just before that, a bloody classroom marred the memories of several toddlers, who witnessed the stabbing death of their pre-school teacher, the principal in downtown Port of Spain.
Two senior men, one a politician, horrified that a member of his constituency, a mother of one, was shot to death, has called for the implementation of electronic tracking devices. The other, the head of a medical board, made this recommendation in the first week of the killings.
A march to remember victims of domestic violence was held last month, one day after the launch of our Carnival season.
That venue, in the heart of the city of Port of Spain, had been packed to capacity, on that day, as Carnival lovers showed their support for our country's culture.
On the day of the march, which called for us to wear Orange to show solidarity, a smattering of people, mostly the friends and family members of the murdered, showed up.
This broke my heart.
Yet, still I fight.
I will continue to fight for ABA...All for Bracelet Alerts..a Movement that intends to lobby and see legislative change that will see our country's existing Protection Order, strengthened by the mandatory enforcement of a GPS tracking bracelet, which will not only alert the victim that her/his attacker is within 5000 feet, but will inform the police at 2500 feet that he/she is breaching the law.
Our country's existing P.O offers victims, most times, 100 feet of protection from an attacker with murder or murder/suicide on the mind. This is within shooting or attacking distance and in my country the P.O. is sadly referred to as "ah piece of paper".
Additionally, the red tape to even secure a P.O often leaves victims frustrated, because the applicant has to give details on how they were threatened. What it eventually all comes down to really is a decision by senior staff at the courts..justice of the peace and magistrates.. if the information provided warrants granting a P.O.
Often the already traumatized victim is advised to get an attorney. Often applicants are mothers, women, young girls who cannot afford one.
The system continues to leave victims jaded.
How do we then expect victims and survivors to have any confidence in that "piece of paper", when many applicants have been murdered with it either on their person or at their homes, when they were savagely attacked and killed?
And what of treating with the mindset of the abuser/attacker, from inception?
In my country, counseling for the abuser is not mandatory, as far as I know. In fact, I don't think its even suggested!!.
It wasn't in my case.
The ABA Movement is also demanding that rehabilitative counseling be made mandatory, as a condition of any report or bail stemming from domestic violence or abuse of any kind.
I have seen persons "religiously" adhere to orders from magistrates which they think, know, will affect their bail and their freedom.
We need to do more than just address this horrific issue that continues to leave entire families traumatized and gives no hope for the remaining victims, who suffer in silence, cause they know our system is flawed and cannot protect them.
The ABA Movement is calling on its sisters at World Pulse to help raise its voice for the absolute NEED for this device.
I wake every morning thankful for life, as I too continue to live under death threats and the shadow of my former spouse.
I refuse to continue to be cowered by fear and the thought that he could try to make good on his threats.
My only true protection continues to be Divine.
But, I will not give up on making my country accountable for the inadequacies of our justice system and its outdated laws and polices that continue to deter victims from truly becoming survivors and advocates.