STATISTICAL data provided by the police, the Health Ministry and the Office of the Prime Minister – Gender Affairs Division showsTunapuna/Piarco had the highest level of domestic-violence hotline reports and reports made to the police.
This was revealed during a sensitisation forum at the Tunapuna Community Centre last Saturday.
This was a pilot outreach programme targeting people infected and affected by HIV and Aids, adults, youth, and children in the community affected by gender-based violence (GBV).
Some of the topics highlighted were how to prevent GBV and how to get help, and coping with an HIV-positive test result.
Aileen Clarke, co-ordinator of the ministry’s HIV/AIDS Co-ordinating Unit promoted the unit’s HIV/AIDS advocacy campaign.
It was noted that fear of violence and other negative social outcomes could act as barriers to women’s ability to access HIV-prevention tools and services. Violence and trauma could lead to lower adherence to treatment, lower CD4 counts (white blood-cell counts that are a marker of infection) and higher viral loads. Violence could also occur as a result of disclosing one’s HIV status to a partner.
Adrian Alexander of the Caribbean Umbrella Body for Restorative Behaviour said sexual violence against men and boys was also a significant problem. Rape and other forms of sexual coercion directed against men and boys, he said, took place in a variety of settings including the home, the workplace, school, on the streets, in the military and the prisons. He also said official statistics may under-represent the number of male rape victims, since they may be even less likely to report sexual violence than female victims. During his address to participants, Tunapuna MP Esmond Forde stressed the need for education and sensitisation, saying, “Without education and without empowerment, we will lose the fight against HIV.”
Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy promised more support for victims of GBV by commissioning alternative spaces for housing victims.