Not until the half of our population represented by women and girls can live free from fear, violence and everyday insecurity, can we truly say we live in a fair and equal world.” — UN Secretary-General António Guterres
Today we observe the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 2018.
In Trinidad and Tobago we have witnessed an increase in murders of our women due to domestic and sexual violence. The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) had 404 reported cases of Rape, Incest & Sexual Offences for the period January to October 2018 and the murder toll for 2018 thus far has been reported as 495.
This increase has been influenced by a number of factors. Reports made to the TTPS are not taken seriously in most instances as officers do not want to get involved in domestic disputes. Applying for a protection order takes too long and enforcement is weak. There are a few shelters for battered women and in most instances inadequate to accommodate mothers with children.
Under the former Peoples Partnership Government led by the Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar, a Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development was created to deal specifically with all issues affecting our men, women and children. There was a plan to build new shelters, transition homes and a health and wellness complex to accommodate and provide safe havens for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. However, in 2015 the PNM led government shelved these plans and three years later it is back to square one where our women and girls are left to battle the scourge of domestic violence on their own.
As a former Minister in the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development, I call upon our Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley and his government to reintroduce and implement these projects as it is critical to create a safe environment for our women and reduce the number of murders resulting from sexual abuse and domestic violence.