Abuse prevention starts with you

Like many others, The Caribbean Voice noted with horror the experiences of a young lady who was attempting to seek legal advice with respect to sexual groping at her workplace. It is clear that the legal fraternity needs immediate training on dealing with abused clients and that staff of all lawyers need to be provided with clear guidelines in this respect. The Caribbean Voice is willing to work with Bar Association to help in this respect. Also a client’s bill of rights needs to be formalized and posted in the offices of all lawyers and law firms. We urge urgent action by the Ministry of Social Protection and the Bar Association in this regard.
Meanwhile, like many others too, TCV is extremely happy that Two Brothers Corp. took immediate action to fire their HR Manager for inappropriate interview and touching. They have certainly set an example for all other businesses but we also hope that the Ministry of Labor will ramp up enforcement of workplace safety requirements to include abuse and mental health in general. As well businesses must set the parameters for interviews with workers or potential workers and take necessary measures to ensure that parameters are adhered to – perhaps recording those interviews for quality control as is done in North America, Europe and elsewhere. The Caribbean Voice has held training workshops for a number of businesses already with more being planned based on invitations. Businesses can reach out to us via email at caribvoice@aol.com or by calling Nazim at 644 1152 or 646 4649.
On a related matter, while rape offenses are indictable we urge that they should also be made non-bailable not only to prevent the accused offender from threatening, abusing or even fatally attacking the complainant but also to ensure that that person does not leave the jurisdiction and not subsequently be found. As well TCV supports the call by the Gender Equality Commission (W&GEC) for stand-lone sexual harassment legislation. Such legislation must include guidelines for the manner in which sexual harassment cases are handled, especially by workplaces and the police. The legislation must provide stipulations to ensure victims/complainants as well as whistleblowers privacy and protection. And it must ensure the safety and privacy of witnesses to sexual harassment/abuse so they would be encouraged to report what they see.
Meanwhile, given that latest police reports show an increase in rape and sexual abuse, an ongoing sensitization campaign is needed. – public service announcements via media, messages at various events, flyering and postering, banners and billboards if possible. One message that needs to be driven home is that ‘no’ means no, even if one is in a relationship. Another is that mode dress is neither an excuse nor a justification for rape.
Also, given that three quarters of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim — fathers, grandfathers, uncles, neighbors, brothers, sons, nephews, boyfriends, family friends — there is need for guidelines to be provided to children and teenagers especially, on recognizing where to drawn the line in any interaction and what to do if attempts are being made to cross that line. As well parenting sensitization is necessary so parents understand that when their children say they have been abused they must be taken seriously instead of being called liars and threatened into silence.
Additionally, there is need for mechanisms to enable abused victims to break the silence by sharing their experiences and publicly calling out abusers as well as seek help. A hotline would be one such mechanism. Or perhaps the Suicide Helpline can be expanded to include abuse. Gatekeepers/lay counselors would be another mechanism. As well, the government should foster the creation an app that would also enable sharing and reporting of such abuse.
Also, the otherization of the call to action must be addressed. On the one hand almost all who suggest what should be done, expect some hazy other to take action, as they remain dismissive of the call for abuse prevention to be everyone’s business, the need for each one of us to tackle the issue in our homes, communities and workplace as that is really where the walls of silence need to be broken down and misplaced concepts such as family honor and status need to be shunted aside. On the other hand the deafening silence fosters abuse, sometimes with fatal consequences, often because victims and others know not what to do and how to do it. This need to know is critical since abuse prevention starts with you and you and you. And workshops, such as the ones offered by The Caribbean Voice, can meet this need.
Finally, some years ago TCV launched an online petition calling for a registry of sex offenders to be raised. Now we are rooting for the realization of the Director of the Childcare & Protection Agency, Ann Green’s plan to have such a registry of sexual predators of children and we hope that plans for a similar registry for sexual predators of adults will also come into being in 2018. As well, we appeal to readers to please sign our petition calling for such a registry and urge others to do so by clicking on the ‘Petitions’ link on the left hand bar of the index page on our website – http://www.caribvoice.org – and then click on the ‘Registry of Sex Offenders’ link, so that we can boost the registry’s chances.

About caribvoice

Free lance journalist, educator and community activist. Guyana born New York based.
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