A Shadow Pandemic

DHWFD Senior Programme Coordinator - Family Development, Dr. Crystal Benjamin, addresses the public during a virtual health media briefing.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, violence against women and girls is on the rise worldwide.

Lockdowns have created no place of retreat for victims of gender-based violence. And, though there’s a fight to end the pandemic, including a roll-out of vaccines, the battle to protect women and girls will continue.

Gender-based violence “knows no social or economic boundaries and affects women and girls of all socio-economic backgrounds,” said Senior Programme Coordinator in the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development (DHWFD) Dr. Crystal Benjamin.

Globally, gender-based violence affects one in three women. And in our twin-island nation, a brighter spotlight has been cast on this issue due to recent tragic events.

Dr. Benjamin said Tobagonians need to work together to normalize accessing help. Last year the Division, through its Gender Affairs Unit, provided shelter accommodation for 19 women and it continues to provide shelter and emergency food support, and psycho-social support to vulnerable women and girls.

The work to combat this shadow pandemic is ongoing. “Our staff participates in continuing education, to stay current on best practice approaches for addressing gender-based violence,” said Benjamin.

 The Gender Affairs Unit is charged with implementing programmes that address the needs of affected parties. Persons experiencing abuse should seek help by calling 639-3395; Ext.47214.