THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

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With one day to go before Barbados joins a number of countries across the globe to observe International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, stakeholders here are racing to implement an instrument which would standardise the data collected on domestic violence.

Word of this has come from Acting Director of the Bureau of Gender Affairs, John Hollingsworth, who said a one-day training workshop was held today to facilitate the piloting of the data collection protocol for domestic violence.

Emphasising the importance of this tool, Mr. Hollingsworth explained that the police, health authorities and the social agencies currently gather information on victims of domestic violence.

“But when we look to analyse this data sometimes it does not provide the type of information we require to make us more knowledgeable on the socio-economic groups, the victims and the geographical locations of persons who are involved in this particular activity.

“The data collection protocol will guide the agencies into the types of facts that will be needed in order for us to get the kind of information that we want so we can make an informed analysis of the issue and be better prepared to make policy recommendations and to formulate strategy to deal with the particular issue,” he stated.

The United Nations-designated day is commemorated on November 25 and for 16 days following that date consideration is given to violence against women and ways of fighting it. The theme is “Celebrate 16 Years of 16 Days: Advance Human Rights and End Violence Against Women”.

So far this year, Barbados has recorded two deaths as a result of domestic violence and the Acting Director noted that was a significant reduction when compared to previous years. But he stressed that it was difficult to state if there was a problem with gender-based violence because the circumstances fluctuate and not all the incidents were drawn to the attention of the relevant authorities.

“But I can safely say that it is something that pervades our society and it is not condoned by the Bureau of Gender Affairs, nor should it be condoned by anybody,” he emphatically stated.

Mr. Hollingsworth said that when one examined violence against the person in its wider context – psychological, physical and emotional – then it could be stated that locally, acts of violence were committed against men and women.

On the question of violence against men, he admitted that there was no significant empirical evidence to suggest there was such a problem, although acknowledging that a few cases had been reported to his organisation and other agencies. “We have heard and have noted the concerns echoed in some quarters about the issue of emotional and other sorts of psychological violence against men. These have received our attention and will continue to when such instances arise,” he promised.

A number of activities have been planned to commemorate the 16 days of activism and Mr. Hollingsworth urged the public to join the Bureau and its partners in this effort to seek to eliminate violence against women. “It is an activity that is not only targeting women; we want all persons to come on board, particularly men, because we recognise that without their support we would be fighting a losing battle.

“They are primarily the persons responsible for inflicting this particular crime against women and therefore we would want to work with them in an attempt to reduce the incidence of domestic violence and to change the behaviour that brings it about,” he said.

Events include a one-day symposium on Saturday, December 2, at the Barbados Workers’ Union Headquarters on identifying and eliminating abuse in the family; and a peace walk on Saturday, December 9, from the General Post Office in Bridgetown to Heroes Square, where a rally will be held. The walk starts at 5:30 p.m. and the public is invited to participate.

So, as Barbados joins the rest of the world to denounce violence against women, every citizen and resident of this island should make a commitment to him or herself not to tolerate this scourge which can debilitate a society and stop it from reaching its full potential.

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