Government Takes Steps to Eradicate Violence

The Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the Dominica Planned Parenthood Association and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) is currently developing a violence prevention program for Dominica.

This initiative is another of Government’s efforts to educate men and women on how to effectively use strategies to prevent violence, as part of its quest to eradicate all forms of violence within the Dominican society.

The program includes a three- day training workshop focusing on effective approaches that can be adopted to dissuade men and women from engaging in violent activities.

As regards violence in Dominica, Minister for Education, Hon. Petter St Jean says this issue is often “swept under the carpet” however his ministry is committed to the “elimination of this social ill”, and will continue to play its part in implementing a violence prevention plan for Dominica.

Current legislation throughout the region empowers the courts to not only recommend counseling for victims, but also for the perpetrators of domestic violence, in cases where a prison sentence is not imposed. This, according to Hon St Jean, is a sensible step in the right direction.

“I think this is a prudent move as an integrated approach must be adopted in our attempts to find a solution to this problem. Intervention programs are therefore an integral part of a comprehensive approach to domestic violence. This approach must target all those who are affected, including those who perpetrate the act.”

While this legislation is currently on the books, it has only been implemented in a few countries in the region. The training workshop is therefore expected to bring an awareness and insight into this legislation and encourage participants to become agents of change in their communities.

Minister for Community Development and Gender Affairs Hon. Gloria Shillingford is fully supportive of the violence prevention initiative and says government will seek to enact and enforce the necessary laws to adequately deal with perpetrators of domestic violence.

“We all know that domestic violence has for decades been a scourge in societies the world over. However, the fact that it has been in existence way before our time does not make it acceptable. Instead, it places a greater responsibility on this present society to find new approaches to deal with this problem so that it can be mitigated, if not totally eradicated.”

“Studies have shown that perpetrators are usually victims of domestic violence in childhood. Consequently, penalties for such persons should be two-pronged, that is, they should be remedial as well as punitive. For while perpetrators are to be made accountable for their actions, there must be remediation for them, for they are themselves victims of the very crimes they have committed.”

Hon. Shillingford says her ministry pledges to support the cause for the enforcement of legislation that will ameliorate the plight of women, men and children who are victims of domestic violence.