Gail Alexander and Joel Julien
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Minister at national consultation: 72 domestic abuse cases a day in 2012-13
For 2012 to 2013 the second court of one magisterial district in north Trinidad handled 17,748 family and domestic matters. This resulted in an average of 72 cases daily, said Minister in the Ministry of Gender Youth and Child Development Raziah Ahmed at a national consultation on the Domestic Violence Act 1999, at City Hall, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. For 2012 to 2013 there were 11,382 new cases of domestic abuse cases filed. This figure reflected a 2.1 per cent decrease when compared to 2011 to 2012, Ahmed said. Giving a breakdown of the calls, she said for 2012 to 2013 the national domestic hotline handled 997 new client calls, of which 767 were from women and 230 from men.
“For the period January to June 2014, there were 65 calls, of which 46 were from females and 19 from males. “The national Family Services Division dealt with 104 domestic violence cases for the period October 2013 to May 2014, inclusive of referrals from other agencies, call-ins and walk-ins,” Ahmed said. Saying society was constantly changing, she said it was the intention of the Government that legislation should remain relevant and current and to the people.
She added: “The family is the most basic unit of society. We are fully committed to advancing not only the survival of the family but the healthy and happy existence of each member. “We are focused on the improvement of living conditions and empowerment of parents, youth and children.” Describing yesterday’s discussions as very timely, she said that was especially so, given the recent posting on Facebook of video footage of a mother beating her son with a shovel. Saying domestic abuse took numerous forms, Ahmed said those included mental, physical, sexual, financial, emotional, psychological abuse, and stalking committed by a person against a spouse, child or any other person who is a member of the household or dependant. “This covers a wide range of interactions, inclusive of intergenerational—between parent or grandparent and child—as well as lateral encounters, such as between siblings or spouses,” Ahamed added. Yesterday’s consultation was the first in a series of public meetings to be hosted throughout the country to increase dialogue on negative behaviours that affect the family. Also speaking was Gaietry Pargass, the ministry’s legal consultant, who spoke about the act at length.
What was discussed:
• The definition of domestic violence.
• Who can make orders.
• Relationships that are covered.
• Protection of children.
• Content and effect of a protection order.
• Cases in which a court must make an order.
• Duration of protection order and interim protection order.
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