From left: Director of the Bureau of Gender Affairs, Patricia Hackett-Codrington; Director of the Child Care Board, Joan Crawford; Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy,??Christopher Sandrolini; Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley; President of the Business and Professional Women’s Club, Marianne Burnham and President of the National Organization of Women, Marilyn Rice-Bowen, peruse the publications on doemstic violence. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Government has promised to continue offering programmes and other areas of policy assistance to deal with the issue of domestic violence.

This commitment was expressed recently by Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, after the US Embassy’s Charge d’Affaires, Christopher Sandrolini, made a presentation of books addressing domestic violence issues to the Bureau of Gender Affairs, the Child Care Board, the National Organization of Women and the Business and Professional Women’s Club.

Mr. Lashley disclosed that the Division of Family, in collaboration with the judiciary, would soon launch a programme for male offenders. "The statistics in terms of persons presenting before the court in relation to domestic violence matters suggest there is still an imbalance towards men. Therefore, we came up with a programme in collaboration with UN Women by which we would offer to the judicial system an alternative means of sentencing, whereby … offenders can be referred for rehabilitation," he explained.

The Minister stressed that his Ministry would continue to work with various partners to help contain the problem. "I think, to a large extent, we have to do that by means of public education.

And, of course the interventions that need to be offered have got to be by means of programmes such as the one I alluded to, where we are going to be working with the judiciary because we recognise that this is not an issue that needs to be dealt with in the traditional criminal court.

"Yes, if it requires that ultimately, but we feel that those first time offenders need to be exposed to a programme by which they can be taught some of the things maybe they are not aware of, so they can come to grips with the problems they are having," he stated.

Acknowledging that domestic violence was a very complicated issue which was triggered by a number of things, Mr. Lashley noted that both males and females were sometimes guilty of it.

Mr. Sandrolini said he hoped the books would support Government’s ongoing efforts and "perhaps introduce new and helpful approaches", while at the same time helping survivors of domestic violence. "This violence affects all corners of our community and to paraphrase Secretary Clinton, it shreds the fabric of society," he stressed.

He added: "We are committed to strengthening efforts across the Eastern Caribbean to implement a multi-dimensional approach to helping victims and holding perpetrators accountable for their acts."

Some of the books presented to the groups included When Dad Hurts Mom: Helping Your Children to Heal the Wounds of Witnessing Abuse; Next Time She will be Dead: Battering and How to Stop it; and Men’s Work: How to Stop the Violence That Tears Our Lives Apart.


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