Women’s Dept. exploring intervention program for batterers
When the sixteen days of activism activities wraps up next Wednesday, the task of finding ways to end domestic violence will continue in the background. One means by which the Women’s Department is exploring that issue is through an intervention program for batterers. In the country to discuss that possibility is the programme coordinator, director of Grenada’s program and a representative from UNIFEM. The batterers intervention program was first piloted in Grenada and is now in its seventh cycle, having successfully reached over a hundred men.
Shane Joseph, Program Coord., Grenada
“It’s about perpetrator accountability; that men begin to take ownership of their behaviour, begin to understand that violence is a choice and begin understand that they can solve their conflicts and their issues within their relationship by choosing alternative mechanisms apart from violence. The men initially are very resistant, but once they come into the program and they understand that it is about changing their behaviour and taking a desire to stop violence, most of them come on board by session four, five and are much more accommodating.”
Jacqueline Sealy-Burke, Program Director, Grenada
“We are going to be meeting with the potential facilitators for this program. One of the key ingredients of this program is that it is delivered by a male and female co-facilitators. That is essential. So tentatively, today we will be meeting with the potential facilitators. We also have to meet with the judiciary, the magistracy because unless there is total buy-in from the court system, it’s really not going to work because the programme is a court connected program, so most of the referrals come from the legal system, from the court system.”
“Yes, we are meeting with all the partner agencies, but in order for this program to be sustainable, there must be the buy-in and the support from the government to take ownership of this program, because at the end of the day, it is all about building, capacity building and sustainability.”
Icilda Humes, Director, Women’s Department
“A lot of work has been done with the victims of domestic violence in our country in terms of providing support, in terms of providing services, in terms of ensuring that they are able to access justice, but not enough work has been done with the perpetrators. We hear of incidences where women are able to leave abusive situations and they move on with their lives and their partners move on with their lives. But in some cases the perpetrators move on with their lives but they move one to another partner and they perpetrate the same violence on that individual so the cycle continues. So we are not really addressing the problem as it pertains to the perpetrators of domestic violence. so definitely it is some that we need in this country and it is something that we need very quickly.”
The team will also be meeting with the ministers of Human Development and Finance. They leave on Friday.
Study Of Southside Domestic Abuse
"E Cud Happen To Any A Wi" is a report on domestic violence, which contains the findings of a survey conducted on 116 women in Belize City Southside communities in June to August of this year.
The survey, which was done by the Women's Circle of Belize, was aimed at determining how much violence was happening in the community, what to do about it and the direction that the group needs to take to help these women.
The survey respondents which included domestics and teachers between 18 and 86 years old revealed the experience, thoughts, conditions and the circumstances that lead to violence. The Women's Circle today shared some of the observations of the survey:
Sheila Guiseppi, Member of Women's Circle
"They observe that a lot of women think it's only abuse when they are beaten physically. If he rails up with her they don't see that as abuse so there are many women living with situations where there is a lot of psychological abuse but they don't see it as a problem because he has not beat her up."
Joyce Flowers, Founding Member and Treasurer - Women's Circle
"As soon as you say violence against they think domestic violence so we try to educate them again to tell them well violence against women include all the others - sexual harassment in the workplace, rape, abuse be it sexual or whatever, even mental abuse or physical abuse - they all come under the one heading of violence against women, so we just try to educate them about it."
Irene Buddan, Member of Women's Circle
"The third observation is that people don't want to say it happen to them, its easier to say that it happen to someone they know. We interview one woman who we knew had been a victim of rape but when we ask her about sexual violence, she said she knew someone it happen to. People are still scared to come forward."
Joyce Flowers, Founding Member and Treasurer - Women's Circle
"We have educational sessions, development sessions and so on trying to encourage these women to come to the session so that they can list their self esteem because we find a lot of them feel like they can do nothing to help themselves so that is one of the first thing we want to do is to lift their self esteem, develop their knowledge so that they know how to go about with our support in improving the lives of themselves and their family."
Lorna Moody, Member of Women's Circle
"The fourth observation; when women feel they are dependent on a man they often believe that they have no other choice but to live with violence and abuse. A woman says 'what else can I do? I have to eat, I have to drink' women sometimes trade themselves for a living, they trade sex for a living and some men wont maintain their children unless the woman have sex with him."
Debra Lewis, Member of Women's Circle
"We are going to be looking at what needs to be done to give more support to the women because I think that when women say there is nothing that can be done, I think its in recognition of all the barriers that women face in order to try to break free of abusive relationships and I think its not true that nothing is being done, we know for example that the women's department has been very active in trying to do something specific around domestic violence but I think it so overwhelming when you are in that situation that it is very difficult to take a first step and we also know that there needs to be much more done particularly for example in the area of providing some kind of economic for women who are in situations of domestic abuse so that we want first of all provide a place for women where they can come where they will feel safe to talk about their situation berceuse that was definitely another thing that came out the survey that women don't want to tell whether its domestic violence, rapes, sexual assault, sexual abuse women don't want to talk about it because they are afraid of what other people will say. There is still that enormous sense of shame that's involve when you are a victim which is completely not the way things should be. It should be if you are the perpetrator, yes you should feel shame, but you are the victim, it shouldn't be a shameful thing. So as a community of women organization we need to show women that we can provide you with the safe place first of all and then we can help you kind of problem solve to find out where you can go from there, what can you do for your own situation? So it's kind of a 2 prong attack, on the one hand providing that safe space for women so that they can and get support for women and on the other hand identifying those things that we really need to push for in terms of getting more support and more alternatives for women who are victims of violence."
"E cud happen to any a wi" will be distributed across the country in libraries, schools and other institutions. In addition to this report, the organization is also working on another publication that will be complemented with graphics to use for public education. The group says it will also conduct a similar survey in the north-side of the city. The Women's Circle, made up of some twenty members, meets every Tuesday at 5:30p.m at the St. Martin's Child Care Centre.