Monday, 3 July 2017

Bergerac’s Island - Jersey in the 1980s - Part 2

Bergerac’s Island - Jersey in the 1980s - Part 2

The Woman's Refuge was established in 1988 in Jersey, and it was largely the vision and determination of one States member to push for such a sanctuary that eventually triumphed. The attitude of quite a few States members was that domestic violence was not a big issue in Jersey, something for families to sort out internally, and they said "Its not needed in Jersey".

Wendy Kinnard, later a States member, described the situation as follows:

"Well, I have had previous experience of course of trying to get a women's refuge in Jersey and it took us six years to achieve that and I was not in the States at that time, but I know how the States reacted to the whole issue of domestic violence, which was 'It doesn't happen in our island'."

"We had to prove the case; I had to open my house as a temporary refuge before we had one and have women coming into the house to prove the fact that we had an issue of domestic violence that needed 16 addressing. We had quite a hard time politically and so did the then politician who took the matter forward to the States."

That politician was Corrie Stein who carried out a struggle against those views when she was a Deputy for the Parish of Grouville.

In the States Minutes of 17th November, 1987, the measure first surfaced, with the following reported:

THE STATES acceded to the request of Deputy Corrie Stein of Grouville that the Proposition regarding a refuge for battered wives (lodged on 25th August, 1987 and referred to the Elizabeth House Committee) be considered on 8th December, 1987.

On 19th November 1987, the report was presented to the States.
The Elizabeth House Committee by Act dated 19th November, 1987, presented to the States a report relating to the setting up of a Refuge for battered wives. THE STATES ordered that the said Report be printed and distributed.

On the 8th of December, 1987, the States began considering the proposition, although there was a move to the next item on the agenda which failed:

Refuge for battered wives. P.145/87.

THE STATES commenced consideration of a Proposition of Deputy Corrie Stein of Grouville regarding a refuge for battered wives and, after discussion, rejected the proposition of Deputy Sir Martin Le Quesne of St. Saviour that the States move to the consideration of the next item on the Order Paper. 

The States, having accepted an amendment that after the word ``property'' the words ``administered by the Housing Committee'' be deleted, adopted the Proposition and agreed that a property should be made available for use as a refuge for battered wives, on a trial basis for a period of two years initially, and that the Housing Committee should give effect to this decision as soon as possible.

But it was not until 1988, on 19th April, that the refuge became a physical reality:

Refuge for battered wives: 6 Plaisance Terrace. P.40/88.

THE STATES, adopting a Proposition of Deputy C. Stein of Grouville, supported the use of 6, Plaisance Terrace as a refuge for battered wives.

Members present voted as follows -

``Pour'' (25)

Senators Shenton, Ellis, Rothwell, Le Main, Brooke, Carter.
Connétables Grouville (Charles Le Maistre), St. Clement , St.Lawrence (Iris le Feuvre).
Deputies De La Haye(H), Morel(S), Trinity, Rumboll(H), Grouville, Wavell(H), Billot(S), St. Peter, Baudains(C), Horne(H), Le Sueur(H), St. Ouen, Huelin(B), Jordan(B), St. Mary, Bailhache(H).

``Contre'' (21)

Senators: Jeune, Binnington, Horsfall, Le Maistre.
Connétables: St. Peter, St. Helier, St. Mary, St. Saviour, St. Brelade (Enid Quenault), Trinity, St. Martin.
Deputies: Mourant(H), Le Gallais(S), Le Quesne(S), Vandervliet(L), Beadle(B), Blampied(H), St. John, St. Martin, Buesnel(H), Coutanche(L).

The vote against the proposition has several notable politicians, including Reg Jeune, Bernard Binnington, Pierre Horsfall and Jean Le Maistre. It is rather appalling that these luminaries had this attitude, especially as two of whom became - as President of Policy and Resources - the nearest the old system had to a Chief Minister. I would hope that they've learned more about the problem of wife beating now, and would vote differently today.

It may seem surprising that there were also some women voting against Corrie Stein, including the Constable of St Brelade, Mrs. Enid Quenault and Deputy Margaret Beadle. Why on earth did they think it was not needed? Iris le Feuvre, however, the Constable of St Lawrence, voted in favour, as did Senator Betty Brooke.

However, Jean le Maistre pointed out that there may have been tactical voting involved, that it should be the responsibility of the States and that the following words

The States, having accepted an amendment that after the word ``property'' the words ``administered by the Housing Committee'' be deleted, would have the effect of causing a refuge not to be established as was intended or needed. In other words it was a tactical amendment which would have the effect of saying yes but not giving the necessary resources . By throwing it 'into the air' would probably mean that a refuge would never be established.

And it was a close vote 25 to 21, so every vote was needed.

In 2002, Corrie Stein, now a Senator, stood for re-election. In her manifesto, she outlined her part in this, and her desire to see greater fairness and less discrimination against women:

"I know I can make a difference and intend to continue to make one. Through the many debates I have led on women's issues, presiding over the Sex Discrimination Committee, I created an awareness of the need for greater equality between men and women in a male dominated States. It was not easy and although not all issues have been addressed, great improvements have been made. My strength lies in bringing social issues to the fore. I was instrumental in a number of matters, including the women's refuge, minimum pay and security of tenure. "

"I feel sad about the public dissatisfaction with the States... I want to encourage our young people to stay and return to the Island. I also want to support health care for the elderly, want to introduce PAYE and support mortgage interest tax relief only on main residences. I support our finance, agriculture and tourism industries and want to make affordable childcare more available. We must govern with long-term aims in mind, have vision, determination, enthusiasm and compassion. I have experience and I will make a difference!"

But unfortunately, it was not to be, and 21 years in the States came to an end at the age of 61. The JEP noted (in a rather ageist comment) that: The 61-year-old grandmother, who rose to prominence as a champion of women's rights was deserted by the electorate, finishing ninth. However, the Women's Refuge remains, an important part of her political legacy, even if she has been forgotten.

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