(Trinidad Guardian) The data related to gender-based violence is alarming, with homicides due to domestic violence second only to gang murders. Making the statement yesterday was Clifton De Coteau, Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development, who gave the feature remarks at a seminar on gender-based violence held at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (Napa), Port-of-Spain. This was De Coteau’s first public appearance since falling ill last month.
He said in 2010 there were 940 reports of domestic violence, of which 68.2 per cent were for assault by beating. “The high incidence of rape, including gang rape, is indeed horrifying. In 2010, police received 215 reports of rape, 22 reports of incest, 158 reports of grievous sexual assault and 278 reports of sex with minor females between 14 and 16,” De Coteau said. In 2013, to date there have been 266 reported cases of sexual offences involving female victims, which resulted in 116 people being charged.
The figures provided by the Crime and Problem Analysis Branch of the Police Service represented the tip of the iceberg, as many cases of gender-based violence go unreported by victims for fear of being “re-victimised in the process,” De Coteau said. Urging greater collaborative action, he said focus must also be placed on addressing fundamentally entrenched attitudes and behaviours that promote unequal gender relations between men and women.
Another issue that needed to be tackled was disaggregated data which did not show the true extent to which gender-based violence or the threat of such violence was a problem. Citing other problems De Coteau said these included:
• lack of co-ordinated efforts and failure to evaluate programmes on gender-based violence, which result in a lack of understanding of its true extent, causes, consequences and mechanisms necessary to reduce the incidence;
• a need for increased public awareness;
• entrenched cultural notions and gender stereotyping which lead to inferiority or superiority ideas and practices.
What was needed, De Coteau said, was a multi-sectoral approach to prevent, protect and respond appropriately to incidences of gender-based violence. He also called for increased community and public education and sensitisation to improve critical understanding of gender-based violence, including legal rights, implications and access to redress and support services.
Saying yesterday’s seminar represented a positive step in the fight against gender-based violence De Coteau added: “Gender-based violence is an issue that cuts across all cultures, races, religions and socio-economic levels with the majority of cases involving women and girls but which also affects men and boys. “Gender-based violence is rooted in the widespread acceptance of structural inequality between men and women and boys and girls.”
The seminar was hosted in collaboration with the ministry, the Embassy of Chile and the United Nations System in T&T.