Cultural rights to foster behavioural changes and women’s emporwement against domestic violence. Barbados & the Eastern Caribbean.

The project, developed by a consortium led by Interarts in association with Caribbean Women’s Association (CARIWA), Advocates for Safe Parenthood (Saint Lucia) Inc. (ASPIRE) and Women Against Rape Inc. (WAR), and co-funded by the European Commission in the framework of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), through the Delegation of the European Union to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, aims at contributing to reduce Domestic Violence in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Region (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines) by promoting societal cultural changes and enhancing the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) to counter it.

It emerges from the identification of different needs and constraints affecting domestic and gender violence most of which are deeply entrenched in societal cultural and behavioural norms, namely lack of relevant surveys and statistical data in most Eastern Caribbean countries; cultural bias of professionals coping with Domestic Violence: many victims tend not to report the abuse because of lack of trust towards official agencies or because of fear of the perpetrators or other family members; cultural normalization of Domestic Violence and little awareness on the consequences of DV, its impact on women’s and children’s health as well as on the whole society’s health, development and economy; little resources and advocacy power of civil society organizations.

DECIDES Caribbean has, therefore, a comprehensive approach towards different beneficiaries, such as CSOs with local and international remit; professionals dealing with the issue (police, judiciary, local and national authorities, local health and social workers); teachers, school managers and adult education facilitators; and religious leaders. However, it gives priority to women’s empowerment, and it is structured to increase their capacity to participate in political decisions, and interact with any kind of public or private stakeholder, towards a gender-sensitive general approach.

The project refers in particular to the cultural dimension of the issue, at different levels, by enhancing general knowledge about Domestic Violence; improving CSOs’ competence through workshops and peer-learning; avoiding cultural bias of professionals through learning partnerships and the creation of a network among stakeholders; increasing society’s awareness through cultural events and products and public campaigns.

The project was publicly launched in November 2016 in Bridgetown, Barbados, in the presence of the ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, OECS and CARICOM / CARIFORUM; the Minister of Social Care, Citizen Empowerment and Community Development of Barbadosand representatives of the organisations implementing DECIDES Caribbean, including Interarts. This event provided an overview of the current gender violence situation in this region, as well as the activities scheduled under DECIDES Caribbean to contribute to eradicating it. The launch was followed by a two-day seminar comprising three different workshops for civil society organisations: the first on research and data gathering; the second on project management and financing, and the third on activism, advocacy and pressure.

In January 2017 the field research in Antigua and Barbuda has begun. The local research team, coordinated by WAR‘s president, Alexandrina Wong, has begun early in January to conduct the field research in the parishes of St. John, St. Philip and in Barbuda. The field researchers, Amy Hasset and Koren Norton, have collected quantitative data on the incidence of Domestic Violence from relevant agencies (the police, courts, prison, juvenile/youth detention centres, Directorate of Gender Affairs, hotlines, Ministry of Education and schools, Ministry of Health and hospitals/health centres/clinics, etc.); conducted individual in-depth interviews with key stakeholders (parliamentarians, representatives of relevant Government Ministries, the police, courts, prison, juvenile detention/training centres, etc.) and individual semi-structured interviews with key informants (DV victims/survivors and perpetrators). Also, they have carried out Focus Group Discussions with key stakeholders in the selected parishes (representatives of local/parish councils, health professionals, education professionals, representatives of FBOs, NGOs and CBOs, youth representatives, etc.). With this information, the Principal Researcher, Dr. Rawwida Baksh has drafted a situational analysis of Domestic Violence in Antigua and Barbuda.

Other workshops such as those implemented in Barbados in November 2016 took place in other countries of DECIDES CARIBBEAN during the first month of 2017. One of the outcomes got with them is increased interest and involvement in the project and its objectives from key stakeholders, including national public authorities. The Planned Parenthood Association of St. Vincent and the Grenadines was an active participant, leading the workshop on project management and sharing its knowledge with other participants. In addition, representatives of the Ministry of Education of St. Vincent and the Ministry of Social Services of Dominica participated actively in the workshops in their own countries. In St. Vincent, the representative from the Ministry of Education not only led the workshop on data collection and data but also underscored the need for and possibility of setting up a stable consultancy service for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that have ideas and want to develop proposals and implement consistent projects. In Dominica, health sector representatives volunteered to repeat and disseminate the DECIDES workshop in all seven health districts on the island. These initiatives have an impact on the sustainability of DECIDES Caribbean beyond the project completion.

Start date

1 March 2016

Objectives

  • Contribute to reduce Domestic Violence in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Region by promoting societal cultural changes and enhancing the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) to counter it.
  • Foster safe environments by improving CSOs’ competencies in policy advocacy, researching, data collection, and networking.
  • Contribute to the prevention of Domestic Violence through a community-driven approach aimed at raising awareness and changing cultural behaviours.

Results

  • To improve data collection and better knowledge of trends and key features regarding Domestic Violence.
  • To strengthen CSOs’ and women’s capacity of documenting and analysing Domestic Violence, and of advocacy and lobbying with key stakeholders.
  • To enhance the perception and capacity of professionals from the justice, health and political systems to respond to victims’ needs and to create a network aiming at Domestic Violence Response Teams.
  • To increase awareness within the overall community through public recognition of the problem and behavioural changes.

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