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18,000 cases in one court

By JULIEN NEAVES Thursday, July 31 2014

MINISTER in the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development Raziah Ahmed revealed yesterday that from 2012 to 2013, there were 17,748 cases of family and domestic violence or 48.6 cases per day in one court, in a magisterial district in north Trinidad. However, she said these were the cases which reached courts as she observed domestic violence is a hidden issue.

“Imagine how many never reach court because of fear or the desire to protect,” she added.

She also reported that for the same period the National Domestic Violence Hotline handled 997 new client calls with 767 being from females. For the period January to June this year there were 65 calls, 46 from females. The National Family Services Division dealt with 104 domestic violence cases for the eight month period from October 2013 to May 2014.

She provided the statistics while delivering the feature address at the National Consultation on Strengthening the Domestic Violence Act, 1999, held yesterday at City Hall, Port-of-Spain.

She commented on issues affecting State institutions and her ministry’s reponse.

“I think that overall the state of some of our nation’s institutions that fall under our ministry and the neglect over the past 30 plus years and the position that we have placed some of our children and women and our youth, we have brought these issues to the front burner, at the centre of the radar and at the centre of the commitment of huge resources,” she said. Ahmed noted the ministry was actively involved in an all out campaign to revitalise community safe houses, domestic violence shelters, orphanages, industrial homes and community residences throughout the country.

She also reported that strategies to empower families and citizens include the immediate start up of the Children’s Authority in September; revitalisation of the National Family Services Division and extension of the National Parenting Programme.

She noted recent Facebook posts have highlighted evidence of violence and abuse which caught the attention of the public and pointed out that one mother sought to discipline a child with a garden tool.

She also commented on the video while speaking later with the media and described it as “a very sad and tragic incident” put in social media.

“And I want to discourage people from using social media to publicise this kind of pain. It is pain not only for the victim but it is also pain for the abuser, the perpetrator, who probably sometimes are not even aware that what they are doing is wrong,” she said.

Ahmed pointed out that there are a number of non-government organisations (NGOs) which provide help to parents who find themselves in need.

On people who support the actions of the mother in the video she said, “there is a difference between discipline and abuse and while as parents we want our children to do what is right we have to do that with a manner of compassion.

And it is important that the compassion, the love and the mercy, show throughout all of our actions as parents.

So any parent brutalising a child is guilty of an offence. This is an offence in law.”

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