High cost of domestic violence

The Bureau of Gender Affairs will soon be calling on those who work in the area of domestic abuse to help plot a plan and formulate legislation for Barbados on dealing with victims.

Programme Officer with the unit, Nalita Gajadhar, told participants in a week-long gender-based violence advocate training course now on at Baobab Towers, that if there had to be an economic study of the cost of domestic violence, it would be significant.

“At the end of the day if we as a society started to measure what are the economic costs of domestic violence, it would shatter us. If we were to measure what it cost us in productivity, again all the people who are screaming and shouting about productivity, yet ignore domestic violence in their organisations, it would wake them up, because there is a cost.

“When a woman is abused, beaten, hiding, can’t go to work, she must leave work early, she must go to hospital, use a bed, she must use the resources of the police, the ambulance resources, all the other health services; there is a significant cost to us. It is not just a problem between two intimate partners. It is a problem that affects our entire society…,” she said.

She further told the participants in the partly EU-funded course that by the end she hoped there could be more networking between individuals and organisations associated with domestic violence, and she would be calling on them as well to help plot a way forward for the country.

Congratulating the numbers who turned out for the course, which targets persons who may work in areas of gender-based violence or with vulnerable or “at risk” populations including women, children, lesbian/gay communities, etc, is a 40-hour training session being facilitated by members of the Centre for Women and Families from Bridgeport, Gajadhar noted that it was a significant achievement and interest being shown.

“We are working, the Bureau of Gender Affairs, towards the establishment of a national gender-based domestic violence plan and what we are trying to do as well is link, to find all of our partners, all of the people who are working in this area, to bring them together, to help to develop a national plan.

“We also need to develop a national protocol, for if I go to BPW, I expect a certain service. If I go to John Mary Brown Institute, I also expect a specific kind of service as an organisation that is dealing with gender-based violence.

“So we are hoping over the next couple of months, and it is in our plan for this year — whether we are going to achieve it in this year, we are certainly going to start — working towards the development of a plan and pulling together people who can help for form a policy for agencies and organisations working in the area of domestic violence,” she said.

The six-day course will include multidisciplinary aspects of gender-based violence including domestic violence, human trafficking, child sexual abuse, police response, medical evaluation and response, handling disclosures, crisis intervention, and court response among other topics. (LB)

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