COMMON CAUSE: Guest speakers at the Family Planning Association’s launch at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad), Port of Spain, yesterday. From left are managing director of Families in Action Elizabeth Spence, Dona Da Costa Martinez, executive director (FPATT), Margaret Sampson-Browne, executive director of the Victim and Witness Support Unit, and general manager Rape Crisis Society, Natalie O’Brady. —Photo: ISHMAEL SALANDY

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45 of 235 women admit abuse

By Michelle Loubon

About 235 women were screened in one month when the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT) introduced Gender Based Violence (GBV) services at its new adult office at Oxford Street, Port of Spain on October 2 last year.
Forty-five women or (about 19 per cent) admitted to being abused.
But they were unwilling to use referrals for further services.
Dona Da Costa Martinez, executive director at the FPATT, made these comments at the signing ceremony in which the FPATT launched the new programme titled “Integrating Gender Based Violence (GBV) Services with Sexual and Reproductive Health Services for Young People” at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) in Port of Spain yesterday.
Among those present were Canadian High Commissioner Gerard Latulippe.
Latulippe donated Can$25,000 from the Canada Fund toward the programme.
He said Canada spent about Can$4.8 million to deal with domestic violence yearly.
Apart from Canada’s initiative, Da Costa Martinez said it will require the intervention of a multi-sectoral working group and welcomed stakeholders, including the Rape Crisis Centre, Families In Action and Witness and Victims Support Unit of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.
She said the FPATT had recognised the need to assist women and girls in releasing the shame of silence and isolation about their experiences of sexual violence. They would no longer be burdened with finding a person or place to confide their heinous experience.
Da Costa Martinez said: “In the first month of the project 235 women were screened. Forty-five of them admitted to being abused. The majority of female clients who admitted to having been abused have moved on, had new partners and felt they were more empowered following their experience. They felt they would not let it happen again. A few clients wished their mothers (who had been abused) could have sought help such as FPATT is now offering.”
She said the second phase of the project will oversee the collaboration of its partners, integrate gender-based awareness programmes as part of sexual and reproductive health services offered through De Living Room.
De Living Room is a youth facility aimed at young people under 25 years.
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