Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 13, 2020 (SKNIS): Restrictions on the movement of individuals as a result of COVID-19 have seen a spike in severe and dangerous domestic violence in some dwellings. Against this backdrop, Director of the Department of Gender Affairs, Celia Christopher, calls on victims to seek immediate help.
“If you are a victim of domestic violence and if for any reason you are feeling afraid there are a number of agencies available to help you. These include the Department of Gender Affairs at 662-5492, the Special Victims Units at 665-3091 and the Counselling Unit at 662-8086. In addition, emergency assistance can be sought from the COVID-19 hotline 311,” said Director of the Department of Gender Affairs, Celia Christopher.
The director noted that the aftermath of the global COVID-19 Pandemic spawns gender-specific adversities. As such, the restriction on movement has compelled individuals to cohabit outside of the norm subjecting both men and women to abusive relationships. Evidence of this is captured in the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reports of prior outbreaks where women and girls have been subjected to a higher risk of intimate partner violence.
At the May 12 edition of the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) COVID-19 Daily Briefing, Mrs. Christopher gave a breakdown of the types of cases handled by the Department for the period January to April 2020.
“A total of 67 cases of domestic violence was reported involving 57 females and 10 males. It [the data] includes 48 cases of physical abuse, 15 cases of verbal abuse, one case of financial abuse, three cases of psychological abuse and other offences such as 14 threats to kill and 40 cases of battery,” said Mrs. Christopher.
Mrs. Christopher outlined the primary role of the Department of Gender Affairs which is to “raise awareness of gender-related issues including health issues especially on behalf of vulnerable populations.”
“This is done through advocacy, education and empowerment utilizing programmes that promote gender equality, growth and development. The Department cannot do it alone and that is why we utilize a multi-agency and holistic approach by forming partnerships and collaboration with the public and private sector, faith-based institutions, organizations, NGOs, civil society and international agencies,” she said.