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Nichols – People have more confidence in the system

Nichols – People have more confidence in the system

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Although there appears to be an increase in domestic violence and violence against women here, there is also an increase in the reporting of the crimes by victims.{{more}}

So says President of the National Council of Women Nelcia Robinson-Hazell, who last Tuesday February 7, announced the first ever National Women’s Congress, slated to take place here next month.

Robinson-Hazell said that more persons are coming forward to report these crimes, a thing that had not happened in the past, which she credits in part to a series of workshops that are currently being conducted by the Council.

“In the Women’s Movement, we have always said that reporting always has been underreported; there has been a level of silence.

“We see that the sensitization that is happening is causing more people to come forward and to actually make the reports.”

The sensitization to which Robinson-Hazell refers, is through a series of workshops that are being conducted by the National Council of Women, and funded by the British High Commission.

So far, close to 200 teachers, police officers, guidance counselors and nurses have been trained in dealing with cases and reports of domestic violence and abuse.

The NCW President pointed out that Domestic Violence Intervention and Prevention Workshops are successful, because of the way they have been structured: to start with the frontline workers, and work its way to the roots of the problem.

Robinson- Hazell also pointed out that the issue of domestic violence covers both genders.

According to Robinson-Hazell, who is also the chairperson of the congress which takes place on March 21-22, the persons trained are expected to go out to communities and share the information.

“The success as I see it is that we are building a cadre of persons who would have been trained, and because of the different areas we will be building a structure where people will be working in tandem: the police can know they will be working in tandem with the nurses; the guidance counselors will know that they can go to the police….

“…It has come out increasingly in every workshop by the male and female participants, that there is a shift; there are men who are as well abused and who suffer from domestic violence.

“I think it augers well that if these cases that are being mentioned that it will help us to address them and be closer along the road to the men and women understanding each other and to building that gender equality and equity that we are seeking.”

Assistant Superintendant of Police Jonathan Nichols agrees with Robinson-Hazell that there has been an increase in the number of persons making reports of domestic violence.

Nichols told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday that the increase in reports has come about because people now have more confidence in the system.

He said from the police stand-point, training has been intensified to allow the officers to respond to such incidents.

Additionally, within the Criminial Investigations Department, there now exists a special unit to deal specifically with sexual offences, and another unit will soon be established to deal with domestic violence investigations.

“With the thrust over the last two years, the population has more confidence in the police; also, when they see the hefty jail terms recently imposed,” he said.

“The agencies concerned have stepped up their game, so persons have more confidence in the system.”

Although the system is working, Nicholls, who has over 20 years experience dealing with domestic violence issues, says he believes there are still some persons who continue to suffer in silence.

He stressed that such persons should seek help.

“Whether man or woman, domestic violence is a criminal act and should be reported so that the police can do their work,” he stated.

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