Local organizations working to combat domestic abuse

While many treat domestic abuse with silence, two local organizations  are doing work which speaks volumes about their commitment to battle this social ill.

Director of the Bureau of Gender Affairs Rosie Browne said her department provides counseling and advice based on the nature of the situation. The Bureau also conducts public education sessions in collaboration with other government institutions and Non-Government Organizations.

“We will provide initial counseling that includes advice and referrals based on the need we see emerging…” Browne told Dominica News Online.

According to Browne, abuse victims who seek legal assistance are referred to the Legal Aid Clinic.

“We would refer persons, those who would need legal assistance or have some concern that would seem to require legal intervention and legal advice, to the Legal Aid Clinic. If there are persons with tangible needs, concerns and
more detailed counseling we would refer them to the Welfare Division,” she explained.

While noting that some men who suffer abuse in relationships voluntarily come to the Bureau, Browne told DNO that the number of men was not significant.

“A few men would come about concerns [like] being ill-treated, because really under the act it’s not only battered women …  but other forms of abuse…like physical, financial, emotional, and all of those abuse types,” Browne stated.

In these domestic violence cases, Browne said the Bureau of Gender Affairs personnel inform victims about their rights and what measures can be taken within the law to address the situation.

“Sometimes persons do not know their rights. There is certain information we have prepared to inform them like leaflets or where they can obtain the information,” she added.

According to her, the Domestic Violence Act serves as a guide to battered women or men, as there are provisions under that legislation to deal with these matters.

Although the Bureau of Gender Affairs does not offer financial assistance to abused victims, such victims are offered relief through advice and moral support, the Bureau’s director recognized.

“We do other kinds of programmes that persons like this might qualify for, example where there are cases where persons maybe find themselves in situations of abuse and are caught because sometimes the abuser might be the bread winner and the only person who provides for them. Sometimes through skills training we used to, especially before, set up special programmes for persons of this nature to get skilled because if they are skilled with knowledge and power they are able to negotiate and do things for themselves empower themselves and move out of abusive relationships,” she elaborated.

Women who express interest in skills training are also referred to the Adult Education Division.

“Under a similar programme we had gotten a project where we do some skills training and because we know people want to go in a more extensive way in terms of doing little business, we also set up what we call a revolving loan fund that’s operated for us by the NDFD. So, we provide them with assistance under the project to provide assistance to women seeking to do small businesses and help themselves get out of difficult situations,” Browne explained.

Chief Welfare Officer Ava Roach pointed out that the Child Abuse Prevention Act does not only cater to children. Despite the fact that they deal mainly with destitute children, women are not excluded from their portfolio, Roach
pointed out.

“If a woman comes in to welfare division we would work with the family …We do our investigations, we do our counseling,” Roach explained to a DNO reporter.

Additionally, the Welfare Division assists women in relocating to get away from an abusive spouse. “If a woman has to be taken from the home we would help in finding housing for her … we will never turn them down,” she said.

(Edona Jno Baptiste – News Coordinator/Reporter)

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1 Comment

  1. D/can to the bone
    January 6, 2010

    The government should enact legislation to treat all form of violence and abuse as serious . Time we live in a real world it is 2010 > The police should be supported when such accusations are investigated. A social services department need to be established if government have not done so .

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