The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) has reconfirmed its commitment to eradicate all forms of violence against women and ensure justice and support for survivors.
This was stated by Health and Social Services Secretary Claudia Groome-Duke as she moved a motion at last Thursday’s plenary sitting of the Assembly calling for support to bring perpetrators to justice, regardless of familial, cultural, religious or other considerations. She noted that the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was celebrated Tuesday 25th November 2014.
She said the Assembly’s major goal was to end violence against women by adopting and enforcing laws, adopting an implementation plan, strengthen the data collection system, as well as increased public awareness and social mobilisation.
Groome-Duke stressed that addressing violence against women and girls is not a moral imperative, it is an economic necessity. She added that in addition to paying the emotional fee, the Assembly pays medical and legal costs related to such violence.
She said businesses lose employees and families lose primary wage earners; “in short we cannot afford to let gender-base violence continue. Here in Tobago we are appealing to our men and boys, women and girls, we are letting them know and let us show the world that our men can lead the way by joining our women to end this scourge in society.”
She pointed out that the Beijing UN Platform for Action defined violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty”.
Groome-Duke said violence against women is not only a public health problem, but also an aspect of inequality between the sexes, which is an area in which the Assembly has a mandate to take action.
She stressed that violence against women represents a violation of human rights, and in particular, the right to life, the right to safety, the right to dignity, the right to physical and mental integrity, and the right to sexual and reproductive choice and health.
She said violence against women is often accompanied by violence against children, which impact on their psychological wellbeing. Women as mothers often have long lasting negative impact and can create a cycle of violence and abuse which is perpetuated through generations.