Representatives from two international bodies were in Barbados recently to discuss issues related to violence against women, its causes and consequences, as part of a study tour on the island.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, Rashida Manjoo, and Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Tracy Robinson, recently held whole-day discussions with representatives from Government???s social and legal agencies to address what is being done to reduce the incidence of violence against women in Barbados.

Talks also centred on the further steps to be taken and assistance needed. During the brief opening to the discussions, which were held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Permanent Secretary in that Ministry, Simone Rudder, pointed out that Government remained firmly committed to pursuing a policy of zero tolerance to all forms of violence against women, and to the realisation of gender equality.

???Barbados is of the view that the matter of protecting and promoting the rights of women is a core human rights concern, and as such, reaches every facet of governance. For us, violence against women impacts the individual, family, society and economy and, ultimately, our collective development,??? she added, while noting that interventions at the legislative, programmatic and educational level have been instituted.

The Permanent Secretary also affirmed Barbados??? commitment to good governance and the rule of law, and noted that in this regard: ???A good foundation is already in place to facilitate this???Barbados has committed itself to a number of international conventions which speak to the elimination of violence in all forms against women, namely, the Convention for the Elimination of Violence against Women (CEDAW), ratified in 1980, the Belem do Para Convention of 1995, and the 1995 Beijing Plan of Action.???

Discussions on the work being done with social agencies were held with President of the Senate and Chair of the Committee on Disabilities, Senator Kerryann Ifill; Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Jeffrey Kellman; and Programme Officer at the Bureau of Gender Affairs, Nalita Gajahdar.

Representatives of the Child Care Board, National Disabilities Unit and Barbados Statistical Service were also a part of that meeting, as well as persons from the Ministries of Health and Culture, Sports and Youth.

Talks were also held with Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister???s Office, Margaret Jones; Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Donna Babb-Agard; and the Head of the Family Crime Unit of the Royal Barbados Police Force, Christine Husbands, to address the work and role of law enforcement agencies in the thrust to end violence against women.

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