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Minister outlines assistance available to victims of domestic violence in Bahamas
By Matt Maura, BIS
Aug 7, 2012 - 3:33:31 PM

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NASSAU, The Bahamas --- Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie S. Griffin said a number of mechanisms have been implemented “to assist victims and other persons who live in fear of domestic violence.”

These include the re-launch of a National Hotline, a national education and awareness campaign, assistance from the Family Services Division of the Department of Social Services and protection in the form of the Domestic Violence (Protection Orders) Act, 2007.

Mrs. Griffin said her Ministry has already begun addressing some of the issues with the launch of an education and awareness campaign under the theme: “Domestic Violence is Everybody’s Business.”

“The campaign seeks to raise awareness on the issues of domestic violence, whether the victim is an adult, child, or senior citizen,” Mrs. Griffin said. “The price of being raised in a violent family is one that is costly not only for the victim, but for the society as a whole. We recognise that violence is a learned behaviour and most often learned in the family.”

Mrs. Griffin said the campaign was launched in July and seeks to partner with churches, because of their wide audiences, and other groupings throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to drive the message home.

“It is our hope that this campaign will end the tolerance of violence in families and inculcate a climate of peace, love and respect in our nation. We will continue to bring this message to churches, communities and civic groups and welcome any partnership for church or town meetings,” Mrs. Griffin added.

Minister Griffin said the Family Services Division of the Department of Social Services, Ministry of Social Services and Community Development, will also play a key role in the war on domestic violence.

“The Family Services Division serves as a support system to families experiencing domestic violence, while liaising with the Police,” Mrs. Griffin said.

“The Unit (also) assists the victim in securing shelter, food, travel and other essentials that may be required. Additionally, it also assists with the preparation of Protection Orders, if necessary, and arranges counselling for the family.”

“The Unit has also assisted victims of domestic violence in seeking employment in order to establish (some sort of independence,” Mrs. Griffin added.

Minister Griffin said the Domestic Violence (Protection Orders) Act, 2007,, is another “mechanism” that has been put in place “to save families and intervene in toxic relationships before they become even more toxic, or a fatality occurs.”

The legislation, she said, offers protection to men, women and children who are experiencing any form of domestic violence whether physical, psychological, sexual or financial.

“It enables persons to go before the courts in forty-eight hours. It criminalises stalking and harassment. It mandates the police to intervene and help the victims.

“Especially important, it can save relationships and the family because it gives a magistrate the power to mandate that the parties receive intervention and counselling, and lets the perpetrator of that violence know the consequences for him or her if they continue in their abusive behaviour that brought the victim to court for help,” Mrs. Griffin added.

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