Several interwoven crises in health, economics, justice and education propel crime and chaos. How can we begin to claw back sanity and stability for the common good? Amid the calls for a collective approach that transcends difference, The Women’s Arm of the United National Congress puts forward its policy and plans for 2017. They include personal and collective action for effective change. Immediate attainable measures and long term macro policies are needed.
1. Three women were raped recently in the vicinity of Arouca Government School where there are no working lights. Lighting the area makes it safe and prevents crime. There have been numerous unheeded requests from the community to provide lights and fix the ongoing water leak. Further rape is preventable here.
2. Orange Day. The 25th day of each month is designated for public education on the elimination of abuse and violence against women and girls. UNC Women will march, hang a banner and issue press statement to highlight collective action for change. This strategy began in 2016 following our Women’s Symposium and continues in Penal on Friday 16 December, Point Lisas on January 25th, followed by St Ann’s on February 25th, and in other communities and corporations throughout 2017.
3. Communities can take more extensive measures to counter crime: Form Community Justice groups to determine what standards they want their community to live by. Identify police officers interested in working with the community to establish and maintain those standards. With training in the successful local models that have outmaneuvered criminal brutality, and with support for sustainable development they are likely to succeed in taking back their communities. Laventille communities have led the way by applying restorative justice principles and building trust relationships with the Inter-Agency Task Force. They discovered that the greater the harm the greater the opportunity for healing and transformation.
4. Women’s empowerment for leaving violent situations is directly related to having an independent income. Income earning skills through quick and easy food production classes have been organised for January.
5. Strategic Self-defense Skills for Women. Accredited training in self-defense with special emphasis in on defending against street violence and rape is available from Rayden Boodan at email@example.com
6. Leadership training- how to conduct needs assessment, develop teams and projects, project management training and learning substantive knowledge of the topic. are available through short local training programmes and International Fellowships.
7. Justice for a better future addresses harm directly. For example, where crime interrupted going to school or university, cutting off dreams of a good job, a home and the capacity to maintain a family, restorative conferencing for a better future could include finishing one’s education. Enabling victims to record their experience of suffering and their aspirations for transformation enables a better quality of life. The records could be lodged in a local museum of memory to retrieve meaning and feeling for those numbed by inter-generational trauma.
These measures re-invigorate justice, resource victims and help the discovery of pathways to positive change and a less chaotic future. The UNC Women’s Arm welcomes collaboration with women and men to work for deeper solutions to the problems that besiege us in Trinidad and Tobago.
Catherine Ali PhD.
UNC National Women’s Arm.