As she settled down to ministerial work, new Gender, Youth and Child Development Minister Marlene Coudray yesterday said corrective (counselling) services and a support system were needed for mothers such as Kamla Ramcharan, who burned the left hand of her eight-year-old daughter, so they don't repeatedly harm their children.
Ramachan, a single mother of four, was jailed for three years for the offence.
Coudray said a support system was needed for the children, as well as for the mother, who is going to serve a prison term. "You have to have the softer side in terms of the corrective counselling services," she said.
Coudray went into her ministry on Monday afternoon (after Senate was adjourned) and met her permanent secretary and professional staff.
One priority is getting the Children's Act proclaimed. She said she spoke with her staff about it. "I have all the documents. "I meet with them tomorrow (today) to see how we can fast-track this matter," she said.
She said she told her staff their work has as much to do with people as it does policy. She said her ministry would be about quick action.
She said her ministry was dealing with people of all ages "because gender covers all ages"—the very young and the very old. "We should not be a ministry that is not seen to be responsive and not delivering," she said.
She said she told her staff they needed to find out what people are hurting about. "There are youths on the streets and there are youths in trouble out there; we need to go to the youth homes and find out why they (the youths) are in there," Coudray said.
Coudray said she had been in the system long enough to understand and identify where her ministry needed to look. "You can't talk about solving crime and expect the Minister of National Security alone to deal with the problem. You have to look at the young people in their formative years because the police deal with the end results, in terms of apprehension (after a crime is committed).
She said she did not want to talk early and did not want to be predominantly putting out her views, even though as CEO and mayor of the San Fernando Corporation, she has dealt with some of these people issues.
She said she would be taking into consideration the views of the professionals, as well as the people on the streets, as her ministry tries to align the views to discover what is best for the country.
On the issue of gender policy, she said a lot of views were coming out on it. "People may have consultations and, sometimes, everybody is not reached, and when the policy comes out, they say, 'But we didn't know this; we didn't know that.'"
She said the gender policy was something the Cabinet has been dealing with.
"The consultation has to be from the ground up," she said, adding: "People would have opinions. I am not sure the experts understand the people on the ground. We have to listen to the people on the ground and ensure that what the experts are saying is what the people on the ground want," she said.
Coudray said a review in this regard would have to be done.