On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and at the start of the global 16 days of activism campaign to eliminate gender based violence (GBV), the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT) is joining the call for action across our nation to not only recognize and acknowledge gender based violence as a human rights violation, but to also conscientiously identify, concertedly address and eliminate contributory factors which have, in some instances, become cultural norms.
It is beyond time that we look within- examining our governance structure, our laws, our society, our language, our policies and practices in institutions, workplaces, and places of businesses as well as, cultural practices and norms in communities and families, and to introspect and examine our own individual mindsets, attitudes and responses to abuse in all forms, not only casting ourselves as observers or victims, but also demanding of ourselves the highest level of respect in the way that we interact with others.
In Trinidad and Tobago, gender based violence can be seen, in some aspects, as a manifestation of endemic cultural beliefs and practices, particularly when it comes to restrictive gender stereotypes, expectations for gender roles, and the distribution of power amongst genders.
During the COVID 19 pandemic, we saw an uptake in intimate partner violence, and we continued to hear reports of, female victims of homicides, victims of non-intimate partner sexual assaults, and GBV- related assaults on members of vulnerable communities including the migrant community. Additionally, we know that for every reported case, there are many more unreported incidents.
While we continue to lobby our duty bearers to act, and we maintain calls for a comprehensive and integrated approach to prevention within our educational and other institutions, FPATT is sounding a clarion call for all of us, as a collective, to do more than just observe. We need to act.
For the Family Planning Association, the impact of gender based violence on one’s sexual and reproductive health and rights is something that we address every single day. Therefore, our campaign extends beyond these 16 days as we try to cut through to the core of vulnerable communities and to bring services to them. During this campaign, we will be sharing more on our projects and services available to the public. In the interim, we are inviting our fellow citizens: Do not sweep gender based violence under the carpet. Do not dismiss it as a norm. This is not who we are as a people, and it is not something we will perpetuate. Violence against women and girls is not acceptable. Gender based violence in any form is not acceptable.
Rather than wait for change to filter down to us, let us move in concert. Let us all collectively stand up as allies and implement the change we want to see in every corner of society TODAY.
Executive Director, Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago
November 26th 2021