The Network of NGOs (non-governmental organisations) has called on men in public office to lead “a reflective conversation on masculinities and violence”.
In a press statement issued yesterday, the network’s co-ordinator, Hazel Brown, said there is need for community restorative-justice courses and sessions to raise awareness and for participants to listen to voices and experiences that can lead to action and support circles for victims, offenders, and community panels that listen/mediate.
The increase in gender-based violence in Trinidad and Tobago is of major concern to the network, particularly those situations in which the perpetrators hold high office, Brown said.
She added it’s worse when the violence inflicted on women is carried out by perpetrators who hold high office—or who are public figures.
“They violate their positions of power and trust and are subsequent-ly not made to face any form of justice.”
The remedy, Brown said, is not a simple one, but she believes swift action in seeking justice for the victims of abuse begins to stem the tide of hurt and betrayal.
“Every year, in Trinidad and Tobago, over 11,000 women report incidents of gender-based violence, including sexual violence from intimate partners. These crimes violate the very essence of a free and equal society where women have the right to be regarded with respect and dignity.
“The perpetrators of these crimes come from all socio-economic classes and levels of power. All of these women, the victims, continue to demonstrate immense strength and courage by stepping forward and taking action against the offences committed, and in so doing, brave the tides of public opinion.”
Brown said the network continues to support the efforts of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who sacked two of her ministers following allegations of impropriety.
“We must examine the root causes and the impact of gender-based violence—which also encompasses verbal and emotional abuse. We must all develop strategies to address violence against women, including appropriate sanctions, legal and other-
wise,” Brown said.