Alliance for State Action to end gender-based and sexual violence advocates from left Roberta Clarke, Angelique Nixon and Sherron Harford after they deliver a petition with 1,730 signatures to Whitehall, yesterday.

Although significant steps have been made this year in addressing gender-based violence the Coalition against Domestic Violence (CADV) said they are not sufficient to “reverse the tide of abuse that is endemic to this country.”

In a statement to mark today’s observance of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls, the CADV called for the adoption of the National Strategic Plan on Gender-based and Sexual Violence which was formulated more than six years ago.

“An action plan outlines the responsibility of all state institutions, the private sector and civil society organisations to implement programmes that lead to the prevention of domestic violence and to improvements in the services available to those affected,” the group said.

“CADV reiterates the need for a whole of government and societal response, which expands community responsibility. We need teacher training, school-based and youth interventions, gender-sensitive parenting programmes, and programmes engaging boys and men including perpetrator interventions/batterer’s intervention programmes. These interventions are more likely to be implemented with the adoption of a well-resourced national action plan to end gender-based violence.”

The CADV said the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting restrictions had resulted in increased reports of domestic violence, with global statistics showing increases that range between 30 and 50 per cent.

“What we do know is that in our little corner of the world, at least 20 women were killed already this year, some more gruesomely than others, by men who were once their intimate partners. The year started off with the murders of four women in January. And despite public outrage, and focused attention, the killings continued. “

However, CADV noted there was some progress, including amendments to the Domestic Violence Act and the launch of a Gender-based Violence Unit (GBVU) by the T&T Police Service.

The CADV is calling for workplaces to adopt the T&T Chamber of Commerce Domestic Violence Workplace Policy and create avenues of communication and support for their employees.

“Faith-based institutions must educate themselves and the entire community. They must join in responses to domestic violence that focus on prevention, safety and support for victims and survivors.

“The Police Service must intensify its efforts at gender sensitization and training of officers, reaching into rural and under-served areas. Often, victims and their families claim that despite reports of DV to the local police stations, there are no records of such reports. Additionally, values-based education and focus on accountability are necessary to change the culture of acceptance of male violence,” the group said.

“We all have a part to play in ending domestic violence. In so many of the cases of femicide this year, we read about men determined to end the lives of women who they could no longer control. Fundamentally, responses to domestic violence will remain ineffective until we all embrace gender equality as a defining feature of our country.”