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Cabinet gets draft plan on gender violence

Published: 
Friday, February 17, 2017
Ayanna Webster-Roy

Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister for Gender and Child Affairs, Ayanna Webster-Roy, says a draft national action plan on gender-based violence has been submitted to Cabinet. It contains proposals to strengthen the legislative framework to protect women, she told the T&T Guardian yesterday.

The issue of violence against women continues to be hotly debated.

Earlier this week, international news network Al Jazeera hosted a discussion on its award-winning programme The Stream, which featured Gillian Wall of the Powerful Ladies of T&T (PLOTT), university lecturer Gabrielle Hosein, clinical psychologist Peter Weller and Rhondall Feeles of the Single Fathers Association.

The programme followed statements by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on the issue, when he advised women to choose their partners wisely in the wake of the increase of domestic violence-related cases.

The 2016 Universal Periodic review from the United Nations country team for T&T said although significant gains have been made with legislative reform relating to violence against women, legal gaps and challenges remain in operationalisation of the laws and barriers to women’s ability to access justice.

“The Domestic Violence Act, 1999 does not give the police powers of arrest without warrant upon receipt of a complaint of a domestic violence offence,” the team said in its review, expressing concern that the process of obtaining a protection order continues to be difficult for many women.

It listed a number of recommendations, including that the Domestic Violence Act be amended to ensure punishment as well as protection and that plans and policies to eradicate violence against women be strengthened, taking into account factors that increase inequality and discrimination.

Webster Roy yesterday admitted there were gaps in the legislation.

“We identified them and these are included in the document submitted to Cabinet,” she said

Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young said the document submitted to Cabinet by Webster-Roy was now before the Finance and General Purpose Committee. He said Government was committed to dealing with the more vulnerable in society, in terms of protection, social services and psychological assistance.

“It is not just about gender-based violence but any issues that affect the less vulnerable,” he said.

Young said the Prime Minister and the entire Cabinet denounced any abuse of women and children.

The issue is so critical that it is being discussed in Guyana where regional leaders are meeting in the 28th inter-sessional session. However, the discussion does not involve regional heads of government but will be led by their wives.

Guyana’s first Lady Sandra Granger said the discussion was part of the Every Caribbean Woman, Every Caribbean Child initiative, which evolved out of the Every Woman Every Girl initiative launched in 2014 by former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.