By Makeida Antonio
The possible reasons for why there is underreporting of some crimes have been examined by professionals in the fields of law, policy, and advocacy.
A recent UN report suggested that Antigua and Barbuda could be behind in the levels of reporting as it pertains to gender-based violence (GBV).
Since the report was made public, the Directorate of Gender Affairs (DoGA) has disagreed with the findings stated in the document.
On yesterday’s Big Issues programme, Dr. Karene Nathaniel-DeCaires argued that the pervasive culture of not talking about intimate partner violence (IPV) and gender-based violence (GBV) openly can contribute to misinformation. She noted several factors which could lead to underreporting, including pressures from faith-based organisations, the stigma of being a survivor of domestic violence (DV) and systemic issues involved in reporting.
Adlai Smith, another guest on the radio programme, encouraged the distinction between general underreporting and the level of underreporting. He believed that the best method to determine the level of underreporting in a country is by way of a survey.
To accomplish this, however, Smith underscored the importance of pinpointing specific variables and demographics through formally collecting data on GBV matters.
Naeemah Hazelle offered a solution to letting people know the steps in reporting GBV to the authorities.
She questioned whether those who are receiving said reports have engaged in sensitivity training, since there may be mechanisms in place to make a report, victims may not have a positive experience, which they should be getting based on the framework on paper.
Hazelle added that negative experiences in reporting could retraumatise the victim as they may be forced to recount the gruesome details to police officers who may lack sensitivity training. She then suggested a review of reporting mechanisms to make it easier for victims to trust the system and come forward.
Youth Parliament Representative for St. John’s Rural East, Samantha Simon, stressed that laws still on the books such as buggery not only discriminate against members of the LGBT community, but others who may engage in such activit, criminalising the individual and acting as a deterrent in the reporting of sex crimes.