Gender Affairs director affirms commitment to assist domestic violence victims
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – Domestic violence is an issue that continues to be underreported, said Acting Director in the Department of Gender Affairs Celia Christopher while highlighting that men are victims, too, but are sometimes afraid to report it.
“The government has enacted a number of legislation for the protection of victims of violence, be it women or men,” said Christopher on the government’s weekly programme “Working For You” March 7. She outlined that the role of the department is to act as an advocate to raise awareness and provide referrals to law enforcement and other organizations able to assist the victims of domestic violence.
She explained that the enforcement arm of the government that deals with domestic violence is the Special Victims Unit. She outlined that the Department of Gender Affairs is limited in the actions it can take with domestic violence cases, but is able to assist the victims with counselling and other support services that they need.
Christopher expressed that abuse is not only physical, but comes in other forms such as emotional, financial, sexual, verbal and psychological. “These are all a violation of the law,” she said. “Whether you abuse a woman or man,” she added.
She noted that working in the Department of Gender Affairs requires patience and understanding when dealing with victims of domestic violence. She encouraged her fellow colleagues in the field to “take these things seriously” and not to dismiss people who ask for help in dealing with abuse.
Christopher urged the public to be knowledgeable about the legislation that surrounds the rights of victims of abuse, as well as participate in the different educational forums that the department holds in an effort for wider sensitization on the ills of domestic violence.