NASSAU, The Bahamas --- Senior Officials from a number of essential governmental ministries, corporations and agencies and private sector partnerships began meeting Tuesday at a “Skills Building Workshop for Human Rights-Based Monitoring on State Action on Gender-Based Violence”. The Workshop is part of a larger project – the State Accountability Project to End Gender-Based Violence – that will focus on building a culture of peace and respect in society in general and decreasing the level of violence against women, in particular.
The State Accountability Project is sponsored by the Caribbean Regional Office of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UNWomen).
Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie S. Griffin, said the Cabinet-approved project will focus specifically on reducing violence against women in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas “through the strategies of increasing state actor competencies; strengthening accountability, and via the promotion of social and cultural change through youth-led, gender responsive social communications in partnership with government and non-governmental organizations.”
“The project is also premised on a number of others considerations that include the need to build political will to address the significant gaps in policyframework for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) particularly in thejustice and security sectors; the need for coordination of regional and nationalmulti-sectoral strategies with an emphasis on the justice and security sectorsas a lever for ending impunity; the need for heightened public and community commitment to securing women’s and children’s rights to security and the need for men to be engaged as partners in advocacy and action on ending sexual and gender-based violence.”
Facilitated by Ms. Gaynel Curry, a Gender and Women’s Rights Advisor for the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) of the United Nations in New York, the workshop follows on the heels of a “very successful” Workshop for Men entitled “Men Making a Difference” that was conducted by Pastor Barrington Brennen, a certified psychotherapist and psychologist.“The workshop hosted by Pastor Brennen was very successful and fully engaged the men who attended, so much so tat we are being asked to repeat it. This is indeed very good news and very promising for the future,” Minister Griffin added.
Bureau officials say provisions related to in camera hearings, anonymity, legal principles around sexual history and the need for recent complaints as evidence of credibility of allegation are all areas which need to be reviewed and reformed.
“Sexual violence against women is high across the Caribbean, with all CARICOM countries showing higher than the global average per capita rates. Yet still, crisis centres report significant under-reporting of all forms of sexual violence as victims lack confidence in the administration of Justice,” Bureau officials say.
“The developmental objective of the project is to end gender-based violence through strengthened and responsive state and civil society actions. One of the specific objectives is the building of technical competencies of the justice and security sectors based on an understanding of the causes and consequences of the current deficits. In this regard, training approaches will be informed on a review of police and prosecutorial policies and practices in six countries.”