Trinidad and Tobago has long had issues with domestic violence, and like many other places, it has intensified in the covid19 environment. There has been a series of recent cases of femicide which grabbed public attention, not just for the frequency, but the barbarity of the crimes which resulted in the deaths of the victim. In several instances there appeared to be a history of abuse. So far, the number of cases for the year has doubled, with more than ten women being killed in the first half of 2020 alone. Unfortunately, the everyday battering and sexual violence against partners and children remain “behind closed doors” and are unlikely to make headlines.
The TT Chamber has always recognised that domestic violence is a workplace issue, even if incidents occur elsewhere. As a responsible business organisation, we believe that corporate TT must take up the mantle to support employees who are in involved in abusive situations.
Domestic violence may take different forms – physical, emotional, sexual, financial, verbal or psychological. It is not confined to any age or social group, income bracket or gender. Children, the elderly, women, men, those who are well-off and those who are deprived may all experience some form of domestic violence, but it is most prevalent among women, who often fall victim to abusive partners.
In 2018, the Crime and Justice Committee began collaborating with the Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CADV) to create a model Domestic Violence Workplace Policy. After eight months of dedicated work, the policy was launched in June 2019. The document is available to the public at https://chamber.org.tt/domestic-violence-in-the-workplace-policy. Now, with the alarming trends that we are witnessing, the Chamber wishes to renew the call to our members and to the wider private sector to adopt or adapt, and implement this policy. It has been vetted by legal advisors and would be an excellent addition to your company’s HR policy.
The effects of domestic violence are felt beyond the home – it encroaches into every aspect of life, including the workplace. The policy notes that “persons affected by domestic violence go to work and the experience of harm and insecurity follows them there. The impact of domestic violence may affect workplace morale and productivity. Abused persons may be late to work, have excessive and unaccustomed absences, seem stressed out and may be unable to concentrate or work productively. These behaviours can make it seem like the victim is an unsatisfactory team member when the person is experiencing effects of an abusive relationship. Similarly, persons who are perpetrating domestic violence may also demonstrate signs (such as aggression, distraction, and emotional volatility) which may affect their work performance”.
The Chamber is encouraging its members and all of corporate TT to be involved in creating a culture that rejects domestic violence. We are particularly appealing to each and every member and all their executives and decision-makers to review our model policy and then take another step towards implementing their own. Our goal is that by December 2020, 50 per cent of our membership would indicate their willingness to implement a domestic violence workplace policy. Once you have taken the critical decision, the Chamber will be ready to support you if you need advice or training on the implementation of the policy. Feel free to contact the Chamber at 637-6966 or email email@example.com
The policy has already been adopted by the Chamber and members of our board. We plan to host an informational session to answer your questions, promote understanding and provide guidance about implementation, no matter the size of your company. It is our hope that with proper structures, TT will work progressively towards the elimination of this scourge of national life.