A total of 17 women have been killed for the year thus far by their spouses, leaving 43 children motherless, according to Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr Vindhya Persaud.
In her statement to observe International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls on Wednesday, Dr Persaud said even with the alarming rate of violence, not many women admit to being victims.
“Domestic Violence remains a taboo, shuttered behind closed doors and only emerging as bloody faces, bruised limbs, broken spirits and dead bodies. Fear of societal judgement, insecurities about children and finances, family pressure and manipulation keeps this a hushed conversation or results in an overwhelming silence,” the Minister said.
She questioned whether beating someone unconscious or to death can ever be classified as love, as is done is some homes.
The COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister pointed out, has kept many women in proximity to their abusers and has also made reporting challenges.
“Fists, knives, guns, hurtful words continue to be used instead of discussion or counselling.
“While we struggle to find the solution, women continue to cower in fear, tell doctors that they fell down the stairs to explain injuries from merciless beatings and lawyers and caseworkers should continue to plead with them to stay away from their perpetrators,” Dr Persaud said.
To observe the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls, the ministry is launching a zero-tolerance campaign against violence against women #enoughwiththeviolence in the form of 16 Days of Activism on social media.
“Our stance together will create an umbrella of protection for legions of women. We must be the hope for children so that will not have to live without the love of their mothers and we must be the conscience of a country that will not tolerate an iota of violence against women. #enoughwiththeviolence,” the Minister noted.
The ministry will soon launch its 914 emergency hotline in December to link survivors to agencies, advocacy programs, referral pathways, microenterprise industries, public-private skills employment database matching and offer immediate help to extricate them from violent situations.
The 24 Hour Hotline Operators will offer support, referral to victims and survivors, family, friends and professionals via an integration of the services available at both the Domestic Violence Unit and the Childcare and Protection Agency.
Nine Social Workers were trained through the Survivors Advocacy Programme, to offer emotional support and crisis counselling to victims of domestic and sexual violence and act on the victim’s behalf when necessary, according to the Minister.
Next year, she said the ministry will create a centralized database system to facilitate information sharing and capture reports in a systematic manner to guide intervention and program and policy development.