On 17 May, a significant consultation was held to discuss a “Victims’ Rights Policy” that has been drafted under the Grenada Spotlight Initiative to End Violence against Women and Girls.
Violence against women and children has long been among the most widespread human rights abuses globally, with consequences that can last across their lifetimes. More than one in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical violence and one in 10 girls have experienced forced intercourse or other sex acts. According to the Grenada Women’s Health and Life Experiences Study 2018 Report, prevalence of physical and/or sexual Intimate Partner Violence in Grenada is 29% with one in every 4 Grenadian women having suffered physical violence at some point in their life, and close to one in every 10 Grenadian women having experienced sexual violence over her lifetime.
The draft policy guarantees support to victims for their healing and recovery, delivered in accordance with international standards and best practice. The draft Victims’ Rights Policy aims to ensure that victims and essential service providers are aware of the rights of victims and survivors to facilitate enforcement, accountability and victim empowerment.
“Any bold systemic changes that we need to have in this country really stems from social justice and to have the greatest impact in changing cultural and social realities of violence against women and girls, we have to endorse practices such as these.” said Chrissie Worme-Charles, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Development, Housing and Community Empowerment.
The Victims’ Rights Policy will:
- Enable the elimination of behaviours and attitudes of social service providers that are “victim-blaming” and insensitive, and which traumatise victims of violence who are being served in the essential service sectors.
- Ensure that victims of gender-based violence remain central to a coordinated approach within and between the essential service sectors.
- Clarify the expectations of victims whenever they come into contact with the essential service sectors.
- In conjunction with the National Gender-Based Violence Standard Operating Procedures, will give direction for capacity building.
- Make provisions for victims’ options when rights are violated.
A rights-based approach includes: Right to Non-Discrimination, Right to be Treated with Dignity and Respect, Right to Privacy, Right to Security of the Person, Right to be Kept Informed, Right to Participate, Right to Competent Service Delivery, and the Right to Lay a Complaint.
As a direct result, victims should be treated with empathy and sensitivity. They should be afforded privacy when making reports, providing statements or at any other point of contact; and they should have their disclosures treated with confidentiality, due regard and seriousness.
The draft policy will be refined based on consultation, and then brought to Cabinet for consideration along with the Standard Operating Procedures. Finally, the Policy will inform law reform regarding gender-based violence.
Participants in the consultation included representatives from the Ministry for Social Development, Housing and Community Empowerment; representatives from the Grenada Bar Association; Civil Society Organisations; Civil Society National Reference Group; government partners; Inter-ministerial Council of Gender Focal Points; representatives from Faith-Based Organisations; representation from Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean; representatives from the United Nations Emergency Fund (UNICEF); representatives from UN Women; and the Project Coordination and Implementation Unit.