National Security Minister Jack Warner yesterday announced a significant increase in offences against women in his crime update and activist Hazel Brown says what is needed to curb this development is the implementation of the long awaited National Gender Policy. In a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian yesterday, Brown, co-ordinator of the Network of Non-Governmental Organisations for the Advancement of Women said: “Without a national gender policy all of those issues of discrimination against women and girls will continue.”
The statistics sent by Warner yesterday to the media documented sexual offences statistics over a five-year period. An over 60 per cent increase was made from 2011 to 2012. The figures show 709 reported cases in 2011 and 1,020 in 2012.
Brown said the policy was needed since it would state the government’s position on such issues which would result in increase responsibility. When asked if she felt more was needed to be done by newly implemented Gender Minister Marlene Coudray to implement the gender policy, Brown said there is only so much that the minister could individually do. She said Coudray took the policy to cabinet in August last year and that the gender policy has been in the making for 24 years.
Without the gender policy, she added, domestic violence and other correlating issues would be guided by “zig zag zoo.” Rape Crisis Society director and board member Marian Taylor agreed with Brown’s calls for the implementation of the gender policy but saw it as another tool in the fight against sex crimes.
In a telephone interview with T&T Guardian yesterday, Taylor said: “With the increase of awareness and sensitisation it appears more women are reporting sexual violations. However, this awareness is conducted by civil society among them Rape Crisis Society.” She said while many felt comfortable with the justice system there was still work to be done.
“Generally, some persons appear to feel comfortable with the justice system. Although some survivors may not want to pursue, upon reporting, due to fear or threats or further trauma. At least the statistics would be testimony to the amount of such violations that are perpetrated to our women folk and the amount of work we as a society still need to do to combat these violations,” She said.
Taylor added that while the gender policy would be a useful tool other measures needed to work along with it. “With the implementation of the gender policy this would be another tool whereby women can now feel protected about their human rights, rights of women and men as well would be sensitised toward positive roles and functions to the extent that the policy is able to achieve its objectives.”
“Additionally, more emphasis should be placed on social workers who would also assist in sensitising their communities and schools,” she said.
The statistics sent by Warner to the media documented reported cases of sexual offences over the period 2008 to 2012. The statistics were not further disaggregated by age, sex nor gender.
Year Number of reported cases