VAW NGO Forum – Suriname
The NGO Caribbean Development Foundation
Violence against Women NGO Forum
The NCDF’s violence against women Forum for Non Governmental Organizations was held in Suriname on August 10th at the Torarica Hotel.
The Forum was facilitated by Carol Daniel, the President and Founder of the NCDF.
Ms Daniel opened the forum by thanking the participants for their attendance at the forum.
Ms Daniel gave the forum a brief background of The history of The NCDF.
Ms Daniel informed the meeting that she founded the NCDF (2007), after spending a decade in England. The main focus of the NCDF is the development of the NGO sector in the region and to facilitate the creation of work plans, campaign strategies and the implementation of regional campaigns. The Board of the foundation comprises four members:
- President & Founder: Carol Daniel
- Vice President: Witek Hebanowski
- Corporate Secretary: Sr. Mary Claire Zitman
- Legal Director: Alice Daniel
About the meeting:
The main focus of the meeting was to obtain feedback from NGOs in Suriname, on the recommendations coming out of the Violence against women Regional conference held in Trinidad in September 2010. These recommendations are compiled in The Cascadia Document
Ms. Daniel then introduced Maya Manohar; Head of The Bureau of Women and Children policy, Ministry of Justice and Police, Suriname
Presentation by Ms Manohar
The law of June 20, 2009 including rules concerning protection against domestic violence.
Suriname has, by signing of the Treaty concerning elimination of all forms of discrimination and the Treaty concerning the Prevention, Punishment and Elimination of violence against Women (Belem do Para), committed herself to take measures to protect women against domestic violence.
The Women’s Rights Centre has made a draft Law eradication of domestic violence in accordance with the CARICOM model law. This act was finally approved by the National Assembly in June 2009, after intense lobby, also from the Bureau of Women and children policy at the ministry of Justice and Police. From the date of June 20 2009 this Act has become final.
In this Act domestic violence includes 4 categories:
- All forms of Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Mental abuse
- Financial violence
Not only the partners, but also elder people living within the family, children or another member or needy person of the family in the home are subject (victim).
Protecting measures within this Act:
- Victim can ask a protection demand by court in situations of domestic violence. On behalf of children can ask a protection demand can be requested by a.o a member of age of the family, every relative of the child, the Bureau of Family Law matters, the Public Ministry, school, teachers, investigation officer, a doctor, etc. A protection demand varies from case to case. Some examples: Perpetrator can be forbidden to come close to the direct or indirect environment of requester, or can be demanded to leave the family house until a decision on this matter is taken based on another legal regulation, give back goods to requestor or forbidden to take the family’s possessions with him/ her, adequate care of the child or other needy person is guaranteed.
- Court can pronounce an in- between demand in urgent cases, so even before the court sessions have started, because for example urgent or threatening situations manifest themselves.
- Court can pronounce a demand to have the perpetrator take therapy or counselling to work on behavior change.
- By bringing sexual violence under punishment as a form of Domestic violence, rape within marriage is also under punishment according to this Act.
- Concerning the investigation officer his tasks are specifically described, for example that an investigation officer should react on every notification concerning domestic violence in a register intended for these cases.
- Special forms are designed which are mentioned in this Act for a.o. victims to request a protection demand from the court. This can also happen without intervention of a lawyer, in case the victim is capable to complete such a form.
The school can also apply for a protection demand on behalf of the child in case the family is not able or capable to. The perpetrator can receive a protection demand from the court before the case is brought to court.
I end with an example:
A little child is being abused by it’s father, in such a way thet the little boy often visits school with stripes on his body. His grandmother lives with them. In this case the grandmother can also apply for a request for a protection demand at the court, in case for example mama does not dare to act. School, in case the teacher is alert, can also apply for a protection demand to protect the child, the perpetrator could even be ordered by the court to leave the house, until, based on other legal regulations another decision is taken. The foundation for these kinds of acts is to offer acute protection. Also in these cases the integration of the different actors should get going in a good way, because we know that very complex practical situations can take place.
I thank you
Participants introduced themselves to the forum by giving their names and the names of their organizations
Ms Daniel then split the participants into groups to review the recommendations compiled in the Cascadia document. The groups were instructed to review and discuss the recommendations among themselves, with the objective of each group giving a presentation on the recommendations they reviewed at the end of the Forum.
The Groups having reviewed the recommendations made their presentations on the recommendations:
Role of the Police:
There should be ethical and sensitivity training for the Police in the ways in which they deal with Victims of Domestic violence.
The Suriname Forum recommends that such training should be included in the training of new recruits.
There should also be mandatory training for existing police officers
Creation/re installation of a training manual for police officers dealing with victims of domestic violence.
NGOs in the region working against domestic violence should be used by regional governments to provide such training to police units across the region. New police recruits, in particular should be targeted.
UWI as a tertiary level institute should also be used to provide training in some of the more sociological and psychological issues pertaining to domestic violence.
The Suriname Forum approves of a training manual for the police and are of the belief that the NGO sector’s expertise in this area should be used for the creation of such a manual
The Forum agrees that the NGO sector across the region should be involved in the training of Police on the issue of domestic violence, as it pertains to their role in the response to domestic violence.
The Forum agrees that the Universities across the region should provide tertiary level courses on the issue of domestic violence, encompassing its social and psychological impact on the region. The Forum recommends that the NGO sector be a part of the creation of such a curriculum.
Creation of domestic Violence Unit:
Each Police station should have a domestic violence unit attached to it. This in itself is not new as the domestic violence acts of a number of islands already include this provision.
However across the region there has been some level of experimentation but, in many cases those experiments have been discontinued.
The forum recommends that this provision of many of the DV acts across the region be implemented on a full scale.
The Suriname Forum is in agreement with this recommendation. The group highlighted the fact that there are two domestic violence units already in existence in Suriname.
However the Forum recommends that there should be a domestic violence unit attached to each Police Station across the country.
The Forum also recommends that the composition of the domestic violence units be of mixed gender.
Under this heading the Forum also recommends that these DV units can make use of skilled/trained volunteers on an on call basis.
Creation of sexual assault response team attached to domestic violence units:
Each domestic violence unit should have attached to it a sexual assault response team that deal directly with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. This team should include ER nurses that are specially trained to deal with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence
Police officers should be trained in interviewing children from domestic violence homes with the objective of gathering evidence.
Victim support professionals should be attached to sexual assault units. These should include psychologists and other rape crisis experts and victim support groups
The Suriname Forum agrees with the recommendations under this heading. However they are of the belief that these recommendations can only be implemented if there is more training in the relevant areas for the Police and The nurses in the emergency room.
Security of Shelters:
The forum identified a number of incidences at shelters, where abusive spouses tracked their partners to shelters, and became violent once locating their spouse. There should be armed police presence at shelters, or shelters should be no trespassing zones monitored regularly by the police.
The Forum agrees with recommendation. In addition they recommend ‘ No Trespassing Zones’ around Shelters that should be regularly monitored by the Police.
Psychological counselling for Police officers:
There should be mandatory psychological counselling for Police officers attached to Domestic violence units.
The Forum agrees with the above recommendation.
The Health Sector in the region and its ability to cope with domestic violence
The regional forum recommends the establishment of a series of protocols for dealing with victims of domestic violence.
The Establishment of a relationship between Health Care workers, the police and social workers in the fight against domestic violence.
The Suriname Forum agrees with this recommendation. There are no protocols in Suriname guiding the interaction between Health Care worker, the police and social workers in their response to domestic violence. However there is a steering group on the issue of domestic violence which is looking into establishing this kind of network in Suriname
The Suriname Forum identified an organization in Suriname RGD (Regional Health Service) that provides training to its workers on domestic violence
The RGD is also in the process of setting up protocols for dealing with Child Abuse in Suriname.
Where a suspected case of domestic violence enters the hospital the police and social worker should be alerted…
The Suriname Forum agrees with this recommendation to the extent that these bodies should be alerted. The Suriname forum recommends that the social worker play a more pivotal role. Those that are specially trained could perform the initial interviewing of victims of domestic violence and sexual violence.
Mandatory reporting of cases of suspected domestic violence and sexual violence to the police by the health sector.
The Suriname Forum does not agree with this recommendation. While they agree that the Police should also be alerted in cases of domestic violence, they disagree with mandatory reporting of domestic violence cases and the compulsory involvement of the police. They have used the word ‘repressive’ to describe the presence and image of the police in such situations, fearing that this level of involvement on the part of the police would discourage victims from seeking help.
There should be the attachment of at least one forensic nurse to every emergency room, in every hospital. This should allow for collecting evidence as early as possible in the life of a case.
The Suriname Forum agreed with this recommendation, they identified that the profession of forensic nursing was non extent in Suriname. They added that training for this profession should be encouraged at COVAB (The training institute for nurses in Suriname). Such training should be done in cooperation with the rest of the region.
Emergency room attendants should be properly trained to accurately complete medical forms for injuries, sustained by suspected domestic violence and sexual violence victims.
The Suriname Forum agrees that training of ER attendants is necessary. They identified the fact that in Suriname the development of a format for such training was already in progress.
The creation of a unified data collection process that will support analytical and sociological research on the issue of domestic violence in the region
The Suriname Forum agreed with this recommendation for implementation in Suriname. The forum identified a number of good sources for such data collection such as :
The Emergency Room
Stop Violence Foundation
Bureau of victim aid
Development of the field of forensic nursing in the region
The forum recommends that the field of forensic nursing should be developed as a specialized area of nursing in the region. Initiatives to develop this branch of nursing should take the form of government assisted tertiary level study for previously qualified nurses interested in specializing in this area of nursing
There should be the creation of an association of forensic nurses in the region, in an effort to regulate this specialized branch of nursing.
The Suriname Forum was in agreement with this recommendation.
Mental Health sector and coping with domestic violence in the region.
The forum recommends mandatory counselling for perpetrators of domestic violence who have been served with restraining orders.
The Suriname Forum agrees with counselling for the Perpetrator; however they do not agree that counselling should be mandatory. They recommend that counselling should be offered to both victim and perpetrator. Such counselling should sensitize the perpetrator to the Human Rights of women, and that violence against the woman is a breach of her human rights as an individual.
The Suriname forum also recommended that the approach of counselling to victims of domestic violence should include sensitizing the victim to the many forms of domestic violence and how to recognise abusive behaviours of all types.
However the forum decided that if counselling for the perpetrator is mandatory it should be linked to sanctions. Therefore if the perpetrator is does not participate in the counselling sessions then he is penalized in some way.
Training programs for health care workers should incorporate HIV/AID prevention awareness counselling for victims of domestic violence and sexual violence.
The Suriname Forum could not come to a decision on this recommendation. The Forum identified the fact that there have been many training programs in Suriname on this issue, including the National Strategic Plan for Suriname on AIDS, such programs have had little or no impact.
In terms of the mental health facilities in the region coping with the issue of domestic violence and Gender based violence in general the forum felt that there was certainly a role to be played by The NGO sector in the region. That role could include:
A) The provision of Human Resources to set up a supportive network. NGOs continue where governments leave off, they have more flexibility in terms of the hours they are available to victims.
B) NGO sector can also be used for the purpose of monitoring and evaluating programs that target victims of domestic violence and gender based violence in general.
The Education sector – Coping with domestic violence in the region
The forum recommends domestic violence awareness programs that are age appropriate, targeting teenagers and young adults. These programs should attempt to make teenagers and young adults aware of what is considered appropriate and inappropriate behaviour in relationships
The Suriname Forum agrees with this recommendation. They stated that such awareness programs are already in existence in Suriname. However these programs are mainly conducted by the NGOs, They recommend that while the government is in the process of implementing similar programs they should invest more resources in these types of programs.
The forum made one addition to the recommendation which includes awareness programs that target parents. Such programs can be included with General programs on good parenting. These programs would make parents aware of the harm that beating, as well as verbal and mental abuse does to children.
There should be the initiation of mentoring programs for young teenage boys in schools. These programs should promote appropriate sexual conduct and responsibility.
The Suriname Forum agrees with this recommendation. Mentoring programs for teenage boys does not exist at the moment in Suriname. The forum also recommends that the NGO sector can partner with the government and /or mentors to enact such programs.
The group’s presentation on the recommendations having been made the forum was concluded. There were informal discussions among the participants.
Ms Daniel thanked the participants once again for the attendance and the meeting was concluded.
Maroon Women’s network
Bureau Women and children Policy- Ministry of Justice
Oriole (NPS women in crisis – National Party Suriname)
Early Childhood Development Commission (national)
Fernandes Bakery, Human resource Dept.
Medical Educational Bureau,
Foundation “ het Klankbord Nickerie” (drug addicts) –repr. Par’bo
Foundation “Liefdevolle handen”(sexworkers, drug abused women, domestic and sexual Violence)
NVSN/ Oriole/ UNA Suriname
Stop Violence Against Women
Sticris (Shelter Women in crisis)
Moiwana Human Rights Suriname
National Women’s Movement (Water and Sanitation)
Women’s Business Group
CAFRA – Suriname
Independent Free lance Media
Caseworker , gender violence (Iamgold volunteer)