While issues of gender-based violence are universal, Spanish Ambassador to TT Javier Carbajosa believes a combination of strengthened laws and changing mindsets is necessary to effectively tackle issues of domestic violence.
Speaking with Newsday at a cocktail reception and handing over ceremony of funds to the TT Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CADV), at his Maraval home, on Wednesday night, Carbajosa said domestic violence was not a challenge unique to TT and called on authorities to do their best in addressing these concerns.
“Violence against women is not unique to TT, we have them in Spain. You need a combination of several things, you need new legislation, policy, helping the judicial system and you need changing mentalities and mindsets in the schools.
“I know that TT is taking serious measures in some of those areas but more needs to be done. In that context I think the work done by some non-governmental organisations to raise awareness and involve civil society in this is extremely important. As far as domestic violence these organisations will always have the support of the Embassy of Spain because that is the responsibility of my government.”
Newsday also spoke to general manager of the Coalition Against Domestic Violence Sabrina Mowlah-Baksh who said she was grateful for the support from the embassy but said much more was needed to assist in the operations of the agency.
She also called on the Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi to stiffen penalties for people found violating protection orders, during his review of the Domestic Violence Act.
“Our organisation operates on a skeleton staff right now. We have two part-time counsellors and one full-time manager and a receptionist. We definitely need to increase our capacity to offer support by bringing on social workers, project officers, outreach officers and intake managers. This is a great help but it’s just a drop in the bucket.
“We do have robust laws. The problem is the enforcement of the laws. I know the Equal Opportunities Commission has made some recommendations for changing in the Domestic Violence Act, which we support and I know the AG is looking at it. We urge him to take on these recommendations.”
A total of $54,750 raised by the Embassy of Spain’s Christmas Flamenco concert last December was donated to the coalition. The concert was held in collaboration with the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Repsol, Massy Stores, Angostura, Global Exchange and Trotters Sports Bar.
Carbajosa said the coalition was selected to be the recipient of the funds because of it’s relevance and effectiveness in treating with issues of gender-based violence.