Domestic Violence Support Services are Available to All
The latest domestic violence cases in the news have once again revealed the emotional and psychological trauma it has on individuals, families and the community. Our deepest condolences and heartfelt prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the victims. Domestic Violence is never acceptable, is a violation of one’s human rights and the Government through the Office of the Prime Minister’s Gender and Child Affairs Division has been engaged in several initiatives aimed at reducing the scourge of domestic violence.
Following the enactment of the Domestic Violence Act of 1999, and several consultations with stakeholders it was concluded that only a multi-sectorial approach will be effective in combatting domestic violence.
The Gender Affairs Division continues to engage in multiple domestic violence awareness, prevention and treatment strategies. The following initiatives have been implemented to help assist persons affected by domestic violence:
• Enhancement of the Central Registry on Domestic Violence (CRDV): The CRDV was officially launched in April 2016 along with nine (9) other agencies including the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
• The National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-SAVE-7283): The hotline was introduced in 1996 and is monitored by the NGO community and operated by Domestic Violence Shelters, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and an affiliated NGO. For 2017, the Hotline has thus far received over three thousand, six hundred (3,600) calls. Citizens who are experiencing acts of domestic violence are urged to use this toll free 24/7 service at any time to access listening, counselling and referral services.
• Government provided Domestic Violence Shelters and Safe Homes: Two (2) Centres for victims of violence (women and children) have been constructed and are expected to be operationalized in early 2018. Additional facilities which will serve as safe havens for victims of human trafficking and male victims of domestic violence have been identified for renovation and are expected to be completed later in in 2018.
• Police Training: More than one thousand (1,000) officers in the Police Service have been trained using the Domestic Violence Investigative and Procedural Manual for police officers. This manual was developed following the report of a working committee appointed in the Office of the Attorney General in 2007 to address this issue.
• The establishment of a dedicated Domestic Violence Unit.
• Outreach programmes: Programmes promoting gender equality (e.g. Defining Masculine Excellence Programme; Food Preparation and Home Management for Men and Boys and Women in Harmony).
• The Draft National Strategic Action Plan (NSAP) on Gender Based Violence (GBV)
• Gender Sensitization/Training. In October-November 2017 presentations were made on:
o ‘Living a Life Free from Domestic Violence: Building Self Esteem for the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force;
o ‘Gender, Violence and Health for the Nursing Trainees
o Panel Discussion on the Gendered Analysis of Calypso looking at gender based violence
With the advent of new institutions in the country such as a dedicated Family Court, the Children’s Authority and the new Children’s Court, the Office of the Prime Minister (Gender Affairs Division) will continue to collaborate with stakeholders on behalf of the Government to ensure a more coordinated approach in the implementation of strategies towards eradicating violence in our homes and society at large.