Chief Justice Ivor Archie says the newly-formed Trinidad and Tobago Association of Women Judges (TTAWJ) must be commended for advancing women’s issues including domestic violence and human trafficking. Having formed the local leg, it was working diligently towards establishing a Caribbean Association of Women Judges to ensure the rights of women and children were adhered to and equality for all citizens before the law by March 2014. Archie made these comments while delivering remarks at TTAWJ’s launch at Convocation Hall, Hall of Justice, Port of Spain, yesterday.
Among those present were President Anthony Carmona, Justice Charmaine Pemberton, Magistrate Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds, Justice Carla Brown-Antoine, Kerri-Ann Oliverie, Assistant Registrar of the Supreme Court and Justice Allyson Ramkerrysingh. They were joined by Justice Maureen Rajnauth-Lee who spoke on “The TTAWJ-The Genesis” and Justice Joan Charles who spoke on “The Judge and Public Service.” Sharing in the TTAWJ’s milestone were Suriname’s Justice Carlotta Korona, Dominica’s Chief Magistrate Evelyn Baptiste and Sir Dennis Byron, President of the Caribbean Court of Justice.
Archie said: “Three countries are in the top in the Caribbean for reported issues for rape. One in three women in the Caribbean will experience domestic violence. We need men and women who are committed to making a social difference with issues. TTAWJ’s mandate is totally in sync with initiatives like gender, ethnicity, child abuse and trafficking. Issues that concern women and children have been brought forward. It is up to judges to play an important part in national development.”
Archie added: “Investing in women is “smart economics. The rule of law contributes to a being a fundamental pillar upon which female judges can play a critical function. “
Zeroing on the issue of “sextortion”, Rajnauth-Lee said: “In Zambia and Malawi there was a lot of violence against women and girls. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Philippines and Tanzania were raising awareness on sextortion (a form of exploitation and corruption which occurs when people in positions of authority, namely public officials whether educators, judges, government officials or law enforcement personnel seek to extort sexual favours in exchange for something within their power to grant or withhold. TTAWJ was concerned with issues of rape, incest, domestic violence and sex trafficking.”
Charles lauded Carmona for pioneering the Bayley Boys’ Project to help young offenders. She said TTAWJ was bent on providing public service and “arresting the demise of the dispossessed, abused, neglected and disheartened in the communities”.
She said: “Magistrates and family court judges see firsthand the damaging and deleterious effects of breakdown in the family and home. TTAWJ’s challenge is to enter the domain and effect change to our social environment such as our offices will allow.” Meanwhile, as TTAWJ moves towards the Caribbean Association of Women Judges (CAWJ), a steering committee was set up in Jamaica, Guyana, Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.