Move Towards Integrated Domestic Violence Court

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An integrated Domestic Violence Court is on the cards for Barbados to handle all family-related matters in one location.

That court, said Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson, will be the next step for Barbados after the Drug Treatment Court becomes established, and will be followed by one for juvenile justice.

Addressing a ceremony to launch the Drug Treatment Court at the Supreme Court Complex yesterday, Sir Marston said: ???We need to have an integrated Domestic Violence Court so that women don???t need to go to the Magistrates??? Court to get maintenance, [or] to the High Court Civil to get a divorce, or to [the] High Court in its criminal division to testify.

???We need something integrated so that there is one judge, one family. That is it. We don???t need to have women going from pillar to post. I say women, but I know there are also men who are victims of domestic violence, but the statistical evidence points to women being the main victims.???

The Chief Justice lamented the fact that domestic violence was mainly spoken about when a woman was killed, but stressed there was a need to speak about it especially ???when a wife walks into a door that she has walked through countless times but somehow suddenly that door closes as she is walking???.

Sir Marston stressed that such a court was important because it was necessary to understand why the behaviour was occurring in order to resolve the problem. ???We are not simply about writing decisions which few people read and even fewer people understand. We are about solving problems,??? he said.

This was supported by Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, who said emphasis needed to be placed on ensuring that individuals and family members understood that there was a better way to solve their problems rather than through violence.

To address this issue, he pointed out, that traditional models such as ???you do the crime, [so] spend the time???, could not be employed, but rather solutions needed to be sought. Therefore, he added a domestic violence or family court, needed to be friendly rather than adversarial.

???That is the direction we will go in for family court. One where husbands and wives don???t come in and be at war with each other particularly if there are children involved,??? he said.

The Attorney General further suggested that consideration could even be given to the possibility of creating a children???s play area in court to accommodate them when they are required to be present.??

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