The Caribbean is ranked a disturbing third out of a field of ten, by the World Health Organisation, in terms of recorded rates of violence against women, namely rape. But action is being taken to devise a system for measuring gender-based violence in order to better devise methods and policies to deal with the scourge.
“We frequently read reports about gender-based violence and hear anecdotal evidence, which leads us to conclude that the problem is very grave,” the CARICOM Secretariat’s Programme Manager for Gender Dr Hilary Brown told the start of a two-day Regional Expert Group Meeting On Piloting Prevalence Surveys On Gender Based Violence today.
“It is alarming that our region is said to have some of the highest violence in the world, including domestic violence and sexual assaults.”
Technocrats drawn from 11 of the Community’s member states, including statistical experts, officers from government ministries responsible for gender equality, the police, academia, along with non-governmental organisations, which provide the essential services to female survivors and their families are meeting at the Radisson Aquatica to also “agree on the suitable model for the region and to plan to pilot and assess the proposed model”.
Brown said this was critical for effective policy, decision-making and action by the Community to address the problem.
“We do not have a complete picture of the situation, especially regarding both the frequency and the severity of domestic violence, including sexual violence. Despite efforts by various authorities and service providers, hard evidence is lacking on the prevalence rate in our region. We understand this to be mainly due to under-reporting by victims to police, the social services and the health authorities because of a whole host of reasons . . . .
“We need to have the two types of data that we are going to focus on in this expert meeting. We need the population based data to measure rates of prevalence through surveys and interviews and the service based data and administrative data collected by the police, social services, the health and justice systems,” Brown explained.
She further noted that if the dynamics of gender-based violence were to be understood, and for secure national and regional committments to be secured in order to make decisions to effectively respond to prevent the problem, then the gaps in data collection across the region had to be seriously addressed.