Domestic Violence Act to be Reviewed

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Domestic Violence on their minds: Minister of Family, Stephen Lashley, in conversation with the Regional Programme Director of UN Women, Roberta Clarke. (A.Miller/BGIS)??

Barbados’ Domestic Violence (Protection Order) Act is to be reviewed.

This disclosure has come from Minister of Family, Stephen Lashley, who said Cabinet was taking the matter of domestic violence so seriously that it had instructed the National Advisory Committee on Family Matters to examine the existing Act and to make the necessary recommendations for its amendment.

Mr. Lashley made the comments today while addressing the opening of the training session for prospective facilitators for the Partnership for Peace Programme at the Island Inn Hotel.

Acknowledging that the Programme would initially target male-on-female violence, the Minister stressed that Government was cognisant of the fact that some males were also victims of domestic violence. "Equally worrisome is the increase of domestic violence reportedly occurring in same sex relationships. I, therefore, expect that future programmes will focus on the men as victims of domestic violence as well," he stated.

He told his audience: "Abuse in any form, whether it is child abuse, sexual, verbal, emotional, physical and or neglect, is wrong and should never be condoned. The implementation of the Partnership for Peace Programme signals Government’s commitment and fulfills one of our Manifesto promises to develop programmes and policies to eliminate the serious issue of domestic violence."

He argued that the moment a person verbally or physically tried to abuse another human being, witnesses should be sufficiently concerned to take some measure to ensure that the abuse did not continue.

Domestic violence, he pointed out, was not prevalent in only one section of the society, but was raising its ugly head among the very young and more mature segments of the population. "It is certainly not a phenomenon that only affects the poor, but permeates every strata of our society," he declared.

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Participants of the Partnership for Peace??Programme listening attentively during the opening ceremony. (A.Miller/BGIS)??

Therefore, Mr. Lashley lauded the new programme which was launched by the Division of Family and Youth, with assistance from UN Women. It targets male batterers, in the first instance, by offering them the necessary psycho-educational support to recognise that violence is a choice and they could now reprogramme their actions and thought processes and seek to utilise alternative methods of dealing with difficult situations and conflict.

The Minister continued: "I also firmly believe that this programme will go a long way in not only empowering our men, but also our women and ultimately families. As each person recognises and accepts his or her role in the relationship that is being negatively affected by domestic violence, each individual will eventually be forced to take a stance and say, ???no more; enough is enough’.

"The implementation of the Partnership for Peace in Barbados signals a new way of confronting the issue of domestic violence. The officers mandated to lead this process will ensure that there is collaboration with all the major players, particularly the judiciary."

Mr. Lashley admitted that there was a serious need for the agencies mandated to collect data, particularly statistics on the incidents of domestic violence, to improve their methods of collection.

Following this one-week training, the Ministry of Family will offer the first cycle of the Partnership for Peace Programme to approximately 15 men for a period of 16 weeks, commencing June 25.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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