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Sunday 26 January 2020
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Activists welcome new gender-based police unit

Colin Robinson -
Colin Robinson -

Head of the Institute of Gender and Development Studies, University of the West Indies, Dr Gabrielle Hosein, has welcomed the launch of a new Gender-Based Violence Unit within the police service to treat with, among other things, the growing incidence of domestic violence cases in the country.

"I think the unit has excellent potential for coordination and monitoring of the police response to domestic violence," she told Sunday Newsday.

Dr Gabrielle Hosein

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith, in a statement on Friday, announced the establishment of the unit in response to the murders of three women in domestic abuse situations since the beginning of this year.

The unit was also established to respond to the increase in breaches of restraining orders and reports filed by members of the LGBT community, is expected to be launched on January 21.

Griffith has called for a meeting with all stakeholders to get a comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon and its effects.

Hosein welcomed Griffith's meeting with the stakeholders.

"As it is still being established, there's an opportunity to shape its focus, to strengthen its relationship with the Domestic Violence Registry, existing state services and NGOs."

Hosein, whose areas of research include Caribbean feminism and Indo-Caribbean feminist theorising and sexualities, said there were many instances in which the police response to domestic violence incidents could have been improved.

"This can be a unit that provides clear direction and oversight. We are hopeful that it is properly resourced and effectively integrated."

Colin Robinson, of the Coalition Advocating for Inclusion for Sexual Orientation (CAISO), also welcomed the unit.

"Although we have called for a broader special victims unit, we welcome any police action in making sure that victims of domestic violence, women in particular, with orders of protection, are ensured that it is actually worth something. We are happy to work with the TTPS to make it work," he said.

Robinson also said Griffith's call for a meeting with stakeholders was a step in the right direction.

"That is critical in getting it right - that the police consult with organisations, NGOs that understand how the issue plays out on the ground."

Robinson said CAISO had not received any information about members of the LGBT community filing reports of domestic abuse to police "because we don't currently have a whole lot to offer."

He said the organisation has just received funding to begin a case advocacy programme that will provide social work and other services to LGBT people who have been victims of all sorts of violations.

Robinson said the programme is expected to begin later this month with the help of the advocacy group, Jamaicans for Justice.

The group is a non-governmental human rights and social justice organisation serving hundreds of Jamaicans each year by providing legal services in response to human rights violations and social justice causes.

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