The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) recognises that gender-based violence continues to be a serious problem across the Region.
So said CARICOM Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque in a message to mark the observance of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, was observed from 25 November which is designated as the United Nations (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, UN Human Rights Day. This annual campaign highlights the link between violence against women and human rights.
The Secretary General said all forms of violence, physical, sexual or psychological had serious ramifications for the health of the victims, family members and the community. Additionally he said, the social costs were many, as both victims and perpetrators of violence often faced stigma and isolation, and families and communities became stressed and often fractured.
Secretary General LaRocque noted that there were also significant economic costs affecting productivity, earnings, and an added burden to health, social and judicial systems. While outlining the effects of gender-based violence, the Secretary General pointed to some of the actions being taken by CARICOM to address the problem.
He said there had been developments in CARICOM???s legal systems, including the enactment of model legislation to address domestic violence, offering greater protection to women from abuse through the power of Magistrates courts to grant protection orders.
He said another major stride was the full criminalization of rape within marriage in several countries in the Region. ???Police have also been given greater responsibility to prevent domestic violence as well as to protect persons who are suspected to be victims of domestic violence??? he said.
Secretary General LaRocque also outlined that the CARICOM Advocate for Gender Justice, Dr. Rosina Wiltshire, who was appointed in 2010, had been actively engaged in research and education to highlight gender-based violence in the Region.
He noted that last year, Dr. Wiltshire???s office released a report titled Youth Masculinities and Violence in the Caribbean, which revealed the link between socially constructed concepts of masculinity, violence against women and general violence in the Region. He said the data gave insight into the factors that shaped the attitudes, perspectives and behaviour of young men, violence and the high incidence of HIV/AIDS in the Region.
Ambassador LaRocque said while there have been achievements there was still a lot of work to be done to address gender-based violence.
???We are still inundated almost daily by reports of killings and violence in our Region. These are often domestic situations where the victims are women and children and the perpetrator a ???loved one???. Although such incidents may occur in the home, they were not a ???private matter??? but rather a ???public matter???; often criminal and infringing on our collective security??? the Secretary General said.
He pointed out that the education system had a role to play as teachers, parents, children and youth could create school settings that were peaceful, free from corporal punishment, harassment and humiliation.??He also used the opportunity to commend people in the Region who worked with survivors and perpetrators of violence, particularly first responders, the police, crisis shelter workers, social workers, health care workers, and lawyers.
???Let us as a Region continue our vigilance and work together as men and women, government and non-governmental organizations and national and international agencies, to end gender-based violence and honor freedom from violence as a human right???.