Senior lecturer at the UWI Institute for Gender and Development Studies, Dr Gabrielle Hosein, says as murder and crime increase, so too does violence against women.
Hosein, also a Newsday columnist, said that included how women were affected by gang violence and crime. She said social fear was exacerbated by women’s intersectional and gendered vulnerability.
Her comments came on the annual observance of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence campaign. The UN-recognised campaign began on November 25 and runs until December 10 (Human Rights Day). The campaign was begun in 1991 by activists at the inauguration of the Women’s Global Leadership Institute.
UNwomen.org says the campaign is used as an organising strategy by individuals and organisations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.
The campaign’s theme this year is Unite! Invest to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls. Its use of #noexcuse as a slogan and hashtag calls for urgent investment to prevent violence against women and girls.
“This year's campaign also calls on governments worldwide to share how they are investing in gender-based violence prevention,” the UNwomen.org website said.
For Hosein, the start of the campaign was a day, nationally, to see violence against women as complex, not just as violent relationships, but violence, predominantly by men, as women and girls experience it in all aspects of their lives.
She said it was important to remember that there was always more states could do, which may not require more resources, but political will and commitment.
Feminist efforts to raise awareness about violence against women and girls in the Caribbean and TT have made a significant impact on public consciousness about issues such as sexual violence and intimate partner violence, Hosein said.
“Previously, there was much more shame and silence around these issues,” she added.
People were now clearer on holding perpetrators and states accountable, Hosein said.
“We know now that our beliefs about manhood and womanhood still reproduce dangerous ideas of male dominance over women, and we know that women continue to live in fear of men, whether in the homes or in public spaces.
“So there is much still to change.”
Violence against women and girls remained “ever-present” and was not to be reduced to women’s relationships, but was also committed by men in family networks and was part of gang violence and crime.
While awareness was growing, change was coming too slowly, she said.
However, Hosein said the state’s response had improved by a huge amount in the past few years because of the Spotlight Initiative Programme.
The programme, a collaborative one led by the UN in partnership with the European Union and others, aims to eliminate violence against women and girls.
While Government has talked about a public health approach, there needs to be more consistent effort at prevention, improvement in response and increased emphasis on rehabilitation.
There is still far to go, Hosein said.
One of the ways to create generational change around gender-based violence was to adopt a school-based approach, and this was where the Government needed committed investment.
She said groups have been advocating for the Government to invest in GBV prevention through education in schools using the Health and Family Life Education curriculum.
The Unesco website said the regional curriculum framework was tailored for ages nine-14 and organised around four themes: self and interpersonal relationships, sexuality and sexual health, eating and fitness, and managing the environment.