Four protocols on sexual and domestic violence, developed by Help & Shelter, were presented to the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security last week and a fifth is still “in the works”.
Marcella Thompson, Help & Shelter Legal Consultant, handed over the bound volumes to Minister Priya Manickchand. Help & Shelter, according to Thompson, has been working on developing the Sexual and Domestic Violence Protocols since last January.
The protocols aim to target specific sectors, like the judiciary and law enforcement bodies, that constantly interact with victims of sexual and domestic violence and to assist them in making the delivery of their services effective.
The documents, according to a Government Information Agency (GINA) release, provide guidance for Social Workers, Police Officers, Prosecutors, the Magistrates’ Courts and an additional Protocol for staff of the Magistrates’ Court on how to deal with victims of sexual and domestic violence.
Another aim of the protocols, GINA said, is to sensitize persons on the issues that affect victims of sexual and domestic violence and ways in which they can assist those victims; while ensuring the victims are supported throughout the process whether they decide to avail themselves of the assistance available or not.
The Help & Shelter legal consultant said that since the Domestic Violence Act was passed in 1996 the development of the protocols “was only recognized in the form of a national policy on domestic violence” last year through work with the Human Services and Social Security ministry and Manickchand. This collaboration, according to Thompson, was being done before the publication of the domestic violence policy to produce the protocols.
Thompson also noted that over the past two years there has been great progress nationally in the combat of domestic violence. The fifth Protocol, which is still being developed, deals with health workers and the critical role they play in helping to combat domestic violence.