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UN Representative Tonni Brodber

The United Nation’s Women Caribbean and the European Union have partnered with local non-government organisations (NGOs) and Government ministries to place a spotlight on domestic violence in T&T.

Speaking on CNC3’s the Morning Brew, UN representative Toni Brodber said the UN has been focusing on family violence in the Caribbean. She said there is a huge problem with intimate partner violence, child sexual abuse and discrimination.

To shine the spotlight, the organisations have been working to strengthen institutions such as the Judiciary and the Police Service, changing behaviours and attitudes about domestic violence and working to remove the stigma attached to speaking out about violence.

“One of the things that we need to think through is what are the roots cause of these incidents? Why are these children experiencing this? And also why are women experiencing the kinds of violence they are experiencing? Because of research that was done by the IDB and UN Women, we know that one of the risk factors in Trinidad and Tobago in terms of the home and intimate partner violence is experiencing violence as a child,” Brodber said.

She said the cycle of violence is something that is often spoken off and to combat it, the UN is working in specific communities in Trinidad- including Tunapuna, Piarco and Rio Claro- and in Tobago.

She said the perception that people should be ashamed to seek help in abusive situations needed to be changed.

“We have to work on accountability, working with the police in collaboration with so that our justice systems work because if you do beat someone you have to be held accountable for that, also as a society we have to figure out why are people beating other people,” she said.

Brodber said statistics show that 74 per cent of men who are abusers have also gotten into fights with other men.

“The issue is what are we doing to ensure that we communicate in healthy ways that don’t degenerate into violence? How can we support people to manage their emotions healthily?”

She said the organisations have been working with children to teach them to control their emotions and with communities to teach them not to shame victims and even perpetrators, who need help to get better.

Through the court system, Brodber said there was a 16 week rehabilitation programme in place for first time abusers.