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There were over 230 incidents of gender-based violence reported in Tobago in 2020.

This was revealed by the People’s National Movement’s leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine at the Tobago Council women’s forum held at the Signal Hill Secondary School on Tuesday.

The forum was attended by Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development Penelope Beckles-Robinson, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy, Tobago House of Assembly elections’ candidates Marslyn Melville -Jack and Melissa James -Guy. Assistant Secretary Nadine Stewart-Phillips moderated the programme.

Webster-Roy, whos responsibility is Gender and Child Affairs, Ayanna Webster-Roy said legislation and policy alone will not properly address gender-based violence. She said the home is a socialisation agent.

She said, “On many occasions, we will tell our sons don’t hit girls. But why aren’t we telling our children it is not right to hit, period.”

She added: “We have to educate our children the same way. If we are telling our girls that it is okay for you to lash out and we are telling our sons that they must not lash out, then we are not carrying the same message…We have to ensure we promote non-violence in our home.”

She said the church is also an important socialisation agent.

“There is a role for the church because there are some churches that are saying to women and saying to men the Bible says to subject yourself but Jesus ent make no fool. Jesus did not tell you to be a fool,” Webster-Roy noted.

She said education is crucial as some women are told, if a man does not abuse them physically, he does not love them.

“That is not the right philosophy to share with our children so we have to change the conversation and in changing the conversation we have to start changing the mindsets towards violence and its starts within the homes and in our schools,” the minster said.

Davidson-Celestine said parents must also play a part in reducing violence.

“We have to go back to the which speaks about training your child in the way that you want your child to grow and very early, as parents, you all should be able to look to see whether your children have anger management issues and be able to work with the NGO’s and work with the Tobago House of Assembly, work the governing body to treat with anger management issues within the home,” the council leader said