October 20, 2020

High prevalence of violence against women, girls cited in English speaking Caribbean

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no-gender-violence-800x535By RJR News
A recent international review has found that violence against women and girls in several English speaking Caribbean countries is normalized, widespread and of pandemic proportions, and underreported.

Rashida Manjoo, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, and Tracy Robinson, Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, jointly conducted a study visit to four English-speaking Caribbean countries – Jamaica, Barbados, Dominica, and Trinidad & Tobago, from April 15 to 28.

Manifestations

In a statement released on Tuesday, the study team said some of the manifestations referred to within the home, community, workplace and in state institutions “included psychological, physical, sexual, economic and institutional violence.”

It said human rights issues affecting lesbian, bisexual and trans women were referred to continuously in meetings, including practices described as “corrective” violence. The issue of a rise in the prevalence of gender-related killings, as the ultimate act in a continuum of violence, was also highlighted in some contexts.

Sexual violence

The issue of sexual violence against girls was reportedly raised in all four countries as a widespread concern, with a government entity in one country stating that 97 per cent of all reported cases of child victims of sexual violence were girls.

Interviewees stated that in many instances private resolution of these cases was undertaken between the perpetrator and the victim’s family.

Mention was also made of the disproportionate use of detention in the case of girls in need of protection, many of whom are victims of violence, for “wandering” or for being “uncontrollable”.

Incarceration

The Rapporteurs also received information from both state officials and civil society that in some countries girls are incarcerated in adult facilities due to the lack of specific facilities for juveniles, which exposes them to the risk of institutional violence.

According to the Rapporteurs, states have a duty to respond to all forms of violence against women and girls “with due diligence in the protection, prevention, investigation, prosecution, punishment and provision of effective remedies, including reparations.”

The duty to respond to and prevent violence, they say, “involves a set of measures including legislation, policies, programs, and services, which should be responsive to the needs of the women and girls.”

They say further that the response of the State should “consider the varying needs of different groups of women due to factors such as the history of discrimination and inequality, age, race, ethnic background, disabilities, sexual orientation and gender identity, among others.”

Lack of accountability

The Rapporteurs say they were also informed that crimes against women and girls were often met with a lack of accountability and effective remedies, and practices that revictimized those who made complaints. They cited, for example, being told that some in positions of authority minimized sexual violence and described it as “just a little sex’’ and those interviewed indicated serious problems with the practice of “confrontations” between the victims and the alleged aggressors during police investigations.

The limitations of existing laws as well as the narrow interpretation and the lack of implementation of laws, policies and protocols were also noted as challenges.

Both State and non-State actors reportedly voiced concern over the inadequate understanding of a gendered response to violence against women and girls, “which in all four countries reflected a focus on men and boys, with violence against women being treated as a secondary issue.”

Numerous interventions, they said, highlighted the struggle of civil society to maintain the focus on violence against women and girls, despite the evidence of its pervasiveness, and the lack of adequate support and partnership in provision of services including safe houses.

Recommendations

The Rappoteurs say the numerous challenges identified require that in order to provide an effective response to violence against women and girls, there needs to be: more resources allocated; ongoing monitoring and evaluation of policies and training programmes; proper data collection; and implementation of appropriate complaints mechanisms to strengthen accountability.

In conclusion, the Rapporteurs reiterated that “a holistic approach to responding to and preventing violence against women and girls requires addressing individual, institutional and structural violence which disproportionately affects women and girls. Violence against women is a human rights violation, which precludes the realization of all other human rights and is a barrier to the effective exercise of citizenship rights.”

For more on this story go to: http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/high-prevalence-of-violence-against-women-girls-cited-in-english-speaking-caribbean

IMAGE: globalvoicesonline.org

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