We update these Demands (put forward one year ago on 25th January 2020) and urge the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to immediately implement a transparent and collaborative strategy for addressing the national crisis gender-based violence. This includes providing sufficient funding for shelters, civil society organisations and government agencies working to combat gender based violence - and most of all declaring a national emergency.
We remind the Government of demands, hand-delivered to the Honourable Prime Minister on February 28th, 2020, with 1,730 signatures and we ask for an update on actions taken by the government to meet these demands. We acknowledge the work completed on the Domestic Violence Act Amendments and appreciate that this is a vital step in addressing the national crisis of gender based violence. However, this crisis remains with ever present urgency - in the wake of two young women (Ashanti Riley and Andrea Bharrat) being killed after taking public taxis just in the past two months. We call upon the government to ACT NOW - on the first demand: to transform the public transformation system and create an “urgent response and system of safety” for women and girls.
These renewed and updated demands remain pressing and urgent as ever:
1) Make Immediate Changes to the Public Transportation System. Work with public transportation associations and unions to develop an “Urgent Response and System of Safety” for women and girls. Implement mandatory GBV Training and background checks for drivers and a complaint system for patrons. Ensure all taxis and drivers are registered. Install cameras at taxi stands and priority bus route.
2) Increase Effectiveness, Accountability and Transparency of the State. To achieve this, we recommend the establishment of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms based on data collection, analysis, and dissemination protocols and within responsible state agencies, such as the police service, courts, and social services.
3) Ensure sufficient financial and organisational support and resources for national support systems that provide services to survivors and victims, including the: Shelters, Victim and Witness Support Unit, Gender and Child Affairs Division, the emergency hotline 800-SAVE, and the newly established TTPS Gender Based Violence Unit.
4) Establish a Social Fund as a national budgetary priority to support NGO-led shelters and civil society members providing services to persons affected by gender-based violence.
5) Create a Multi-stakeholder coordination mechanism that includes civil society, academics and ministries, working together to end gender-based violence. This committee will advise Government on the adoption, resourcing, implementation and monitoring of the National Strategy against Gender Based and Sexual Violence and the National Policy on Gender and Development.
6) Invest in social reformation programmes to facilitate cultural change by embedding and teaching nonviolent communication approaches and methodologies in school curricula, social service provision, and public education campaigns.
We urge the government and all politicians to put aside personal and political agendas and place critical focus on eliminating violence against all women and girls in Trinidad and Tobago.
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