The submission is made on behalf of The Association of Female Executives of Trinidad and Tobago (AFETT), The Powerful Ladies of Trinidad and Tobago (PLOTT), The Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women, Women’s Institute for Alternative Development (WINAD), Hindu Women’s Organisation and Advocates for Safe Parenthood: Improving Reproductive Equity (ASPIRE) who have collaborated to issue same.
During the recnt holiday period while many were surrounded by family and friends, love, joy and laughter, far too many were in mourning over the loss of their children or in pain over the violation of their daughters. Most recently, several little ones were robbed of their lives in the most cruel and inhumane manner, allegedly by people they knew. The violation of our women and children must stop.
We recognise the protection and care of our children is a multifaceted issue requiring the involvement of all stakeholders. The situation of child abuse is grave, but not impossible as we acknowledge the many entities already working to effect positive change. Unless we address our varied levels of helplessness, ignorance, indifference or apathy, our nation’s children will continue to pay the price.
The Association of Female Executives of Trinidad and Tobago (AFETT), The Powerful Ladies of Trinidad and Tobago (PLOTT), The Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women, Women’s Institute for Alternative Development (WINAD), Hindu Women’s Organisation and Advocates for Safe Parenthood: Improving Reproductive Equity (ASPIRE) are collaborating to make a difference and call for personal responsibility, public awareness and education, and action.
From the highest levels of state to citizens across T&T, each has an integral part to play. Parents, family members, neighbours, teachers, religious leaders, employers, unions, CBOs, NGOs and the government – we each MUST do our part to protect our nation’s children.
Public awareness and education in the public sphere, communities and schools
We declare that as a society we can and must be aware and take action NOW which includes, but not limited to, the following:
• Building public and community capacity to respond to violence through the implementation of Public Awareness and Education initiatives on child rights and human rights and on other pertinent issues such as sexual exploitation, human trafficking, violence against women and child prostitution
• Ensuring Health and Family Life Education programmes are taught within our schools
• Implementation of national parenting programmes
As a society we can and must at minimum:
At the personal level:
• Be our children’s/neighbour’s keeper—Become an advocate for and protector of our children
• Adopt a zero tolerance approach to domestic violence and violence against children, women and girls
• Take ownership of both the issues and the solutions/opportunities
• Take action on a timely basis
In our communities:
• Expand the social safety net so that women do not feel that they have to remain for economic reasons with men who abuse them
• Increase the number of trained personnel at all levels of the social service arena
• Provide for mandatory placement of guidance counsellors in all schools
• Provide counselling and treatment for victims and perpetrators of violence
• Increase collaboration among stakeholders
Through our organisations and entities:
• Encourage and support family life and the care and protection of children
• Review paternal leave provisions
• Encourage employers to provide affordable and quality child care solutions and the Government to support such initiatives
At the national level:
• Operationalise the Children’s Authority
• Proclaim and implement the package of children’s legislation
• Establish a National Gender Policy
• Address the incongruity that exists in the law of Trinidad and Tobago which allows religion to sanction the marriage of girls under 14 years and the other which declares that sexual activity with girls under 16 years constitutes statutory rape; increase the legal age for marriage by girls to at least 18
• Introduce legislation that provides support for and addresses equity in parental responsibilities; encourage maternal and paternal balance in the care of the family
• Monitor and evaluate programmes intended to protect the rights of women and children
• Support the work of non-governmental organisations with a mandate to protect the rights of women and children.
Let’s work together to end this scourge of violence. Become an advocate for our children. You can start by helping to rebuild the village that once looked after them. Do your part, be aware; know that you are responsible and take action.
For more information or to contribute, contact any of the collaborating organisations at the following numbers:
• AFETT – 685-1366 or 354-7130
• Network of NGOs – 623-8861
• PLOTT – 623-6576 or 680-9248
• ASPIRE – 622-2528
• WINAD – 621-2495