AFETT Speaks Out Against Domestic Violence
November 25th 2015 was International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Read the message AFETT issued to the media outlining our stance on this issue that affects all of us. We have a responsibility to speak up!
Domestic violence is arguably a global pandemic that is more prevalent both in the home and the workplace than we may care to admit. More specifically, according to UN Women, 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced domestic violence. The recent and very public displays of domestic violence in Trinidad and Tobago have brought the topic to the fore once more and this issue has generated differing points of view at various levels in our society particularly on social media platforms.
The Association of Female Executives of Trinidad and Tobago (AFETT) believes that much more must be done to respond to the cries for justice on behalf of the women and children who have suffered domestic violence in Trinidad and Tobago. We must take a holistic approach to addressing this grave issue given that there are social, economic and societal factors that impact upon women and families.
Some cultural attitudes and economic conditions may set the stage for initiating and perpetuating domestic violence. Moreover, women are sometimes socialised into submissive gender roles. Women have the right to be free from violence. In 2004, the UN General Assembly in recognising that domestic violence is a human rights issue with serious immediate and long-term implications, strongly condemned all forms of domestic violence against women and girls and called for an elimination of violence in the family. By resolution 54/134 of 17 December 1999, the United Nations General Assembly designated 25th November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and invited governments, international organisations and NGOs to organise activities designed to raise public awareness of the problem on that day.
Whilst domestic violence happens outside the workplace, its impact transcends the work/home boundaries as it affects the working-woman’s performance on the job and therefore her earning potential. This may be displayed as increased absenteeism or on-going health issues and may also limit her ability to progress in her career.
Some women are silently suffering shame, afraid to reveal that they are being abused. We must help lift the veil of secrecy that so many women wear in our society today. We must make it easier for women to speak out, to access counselling and other support services as well as provide real protection for them through the legal system.
Whilst there are some facilities and services available, AFETT believes more is required. There should be prevention educational programmes organised at the national level to teach the tenets of respectful relationships in schools and to adults. This programme should also include opportunities to empower women and provide support to the community in its role in eradicating this scourge that is domestic violence.
Intervention programmes for the perpetrators of domestic violence should be mandatory in order to explore and understand their dysfunctional relationship with power and provide an opportunity to deconstruct violence issues.
Domestic violence crosses national boundaries as well as socio-economic, cultural, racial and class distinctions. It happens to women from all races, religions, income and education levels. What begins as an individual assault, impacts families, communities, workplaces and the country. We beseech women to reach out to other women in empathy and compassion. The Domestic Violence Drop-in Centres and The Coalition Against Domestic Violence are two well-known organisations available to provide support services. Counselling and support is also provided 24 hours a day through the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-SAVE (7283).
AFETT is deeply concerned that if left unaddressed, domestic violence will become ingrained and acceptable in our society. A pandemic of apathy and tolerance seems too have already infiltrated our society. AFETT stands ready to provide support at the individual and national level. As a nation we cannot go back to business as usual. The time to act is now, before another woman or child becomes a statistic.