MINISTER in the Office of the Prime Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy has condemned a recent practice of sharing videos of domestic violence incidents on social media.
She was piloting the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill in the House on Wednesday.
She said, over the last few weeks she noticed an alarming trend where videos of incidents are shared "to serve as entertainment for the depraved."
"Just last night I received in my inbox a video of a man being beaten by a woman while children looked on in shock and adults laughed."
Webster-Roy said, during the period of the covid19 stay at home order she received calls from colleagues on both sides of the House seeking help on behalf of constituents who were either experiencing domestic violence or were at risk.
"Undoubtedly, domestic violence remains a pressing issue and requires the attention of all sectors of society."
She reported, the Office of the Prime Minister is reviewing data received from shelters to determine what is required regarding funding "to ensure that privately-run shelters are able to keep their doors open and provide the best level of support for survivors." During debate on the bill in the Senate on Monday, Opposition Senator Khadijah Ameen said there were shelters which were receiving reduced or suppressed funding and this needed to be addressed.
Webster-Roy said, for the first time in TT a government has opened state-run domestic violence shelters with one opened on Monday and a second scheduled to be opened in the first week of July.
Returning to the bill, she recalled that over the years people have told her that when they went to the police to report an incident of domestic violence they were told to "go back and handle your business". She said, however, the new legislation will stop this practice.
She stressed that even with the legislation, society has to look at the root causes of domestic violence and to change cultural norms and values that perpetuate violence against women or men.
She added that these norms and values make people believe it is okay to violate and own a woman or a man.
"Domestic violence and gender-based violence is not something behind locked doors but it is a violation of human rights."
She said when the Prime Minister assigned the gender and child affairs portfolio to the Office of the Prime Minister this signalled the commitment to position as a national priority the safety and well-being of the nation's women and children.
"We didn't just talk the talk; we put action behind our words. This Government has done more than any other administration in recent history to address issues of gender and development and gender-based violence."
She said this Government, notwithstanding a drop in revenue, has invested more in the country's most vulnerable – the nation's women and children. She reported since 2015 about $170 million has been spent on the Gender Affairs Division.