Domestic Violence Act To Be Reformed

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Social Care Minister, Steve Blackett addressing the audience at the biennial General Meeting of the National Organisation of Women. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

As Government continues to work assiduously to bring an end to the "scourge" of domestic violence, efforts are under way to reform the Domestic Violence (Protection Orders) Act, 1992-94.

According to Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett, a Cabinet Paper on the matter has been prepared "in keeping with current best practices", and will soon be discussed.

The disclosure came during the Minister’s feature address at the biennial General Meeting of the National Organisation of Women (NOW) recently.

He explained that a reform committee, which was established by the Bureau of Gender Affairs, reviewed the existing document and made a number of recommendations, including a call for the expansion of the definition of domestic violence.

Stating that the concerns expressed by the NOW and its member organisations were responded to in the proposal, Minister Blackett pointed out: "The Committee addressed the vexing situation of who can apply… It may be noted that the report speaks to the need to address the deficits in the existing Act as they relate to limited specification of the class of persons who can utilise the Act; limited court powers; limitations on police duties and powers; inadequate enforcement mechanisms and deficits in procedures."

Alluding to other initiatives which were being undertaken by the Bureau of Gender Affairs, the Minister disclosed that: "Initial work on developing a National Plan of Action to deal with domestic violence, as well as an Operations Protocol to guide interventions of NGOs working in the area of domestic violence had begun".

The Social Care Minister also addressed the issue of violence against women, which he described as a "threat to destroying the family structure and society". Affirming Government’s commitment to a "policy of zero tolerance to all forms of violence against women", he asserted: "Eradicating it is a must!"

sharifa.medford@barbados.gov.bb

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