VAW NGO Forum Barbados

Barbados VAW NGO Forum

The  VAW NGO Forum was held in  Barbados on March 14th 2011 at The Blue Horizon hotel, Christ Church.

The Forum was funded by the Dutch Embassy in Port of Spain.

The Forum was facilitated by the President and founder of The NGO Caribbean Development Foundation, Carol Daniel.

The Cascadia document was reviewed by the Forum and discussed at length.

Below are the minutes of the Barbados VAW NGO Forum

Minutes of the Barbados VAW NGO Forum

Role of the Police


Sensitivity Training for Police

The Forum discussed the current situation in Barbados as it pertains to Sensitivity training of the police on the issue of violence against women.

It was identified that currently in Barbados:

1)There is a module on Domestic Violence included in the training for new recruits

2) Seminars are held periodically on the issue of the role of the police where domestic violence and sexual assault against women are concerned.

3)There is currently a manual published for The Police Training school that includes issues on domestic violence as they pertain to the role of the police.

Despite the above the Forum felt that Training of the police needs to be more widespread. Currently the training in Barbados targets new police recruits and it is not mandatory.

The Forum suggested that widespread training should be enforced and should include higher levels of the police force as well as the public. The public needs to be made aware of what to expect from the police once they are called to deal with domestic violence situations.

The Forum suggested that a strategy should be developed that targets the senior levels of the Police force.

Training the Police Force – The Role of the NGO sector.

The forum discussed the social status of the NGO sector in Barbados. While this does not directly pertain to the issue of the role of the NGO sector in Training the police force, how NGOs are perceived in Barbados does have an impact on the level of success they will have in taking the lead on training the police.

Many of the participants supported the view, that culturally; in Barbados, local NGOs are not very respected among Barbadians and hence are not taken seriously. Therefore the suggestion was put forward that a partnership between certain International NGOs, local NGOs and the police department could initiate and be responsible for a training programming targeting all levels of the Police force.

Such training should also include in its focus the procedure to be followed by police as a first response

The forum agreed that The University of the West Indies as a tertiary level institute should be used to provide training in some of the more sociological and psychological issues pertaining to domestic violence.

However UWI courses should target Health workers, social workers and the Judiciary as well.

The Creation of Domestic Violence Units

The Forum agreed with the recommendation that domestic violence units should be created, however they felt such units should be implemented at the divisional level rather than in every police station.

In Barbados there has been some consideration given to the concept of domestic violence units within the police force.

However many of the relevant authorities have argued that this may not be feasible.

It was suggested that Domestic violence units would be in a better position to monitor families experiencing violence in the home and would be able to register frequent calls from such families.

The Forum agreed that the implementation of domestic violence units at the divisional level of the Police force in Barbados was worth fighting for.

Creation of a sexual response team attached to domestic violence units.

The crisis centres are already involved in advocating for laws that outline the  protocols to be implemented when a woman reports a sexual assault, such protocols should include the involvement of sexual response teams.

Participants of the Forum did have reservations about the creation of a sexual assault response team. Those reservations centred on the logistics between having a domestic violence unit and a sexual response team together. The practical dynamics of who would be the first response team, the domestic violence unit or the sexual response team were discussed.

However the Forum recognized the need for a sexual response team that included forensic nurses that could gather the initial evidence from women who have been raped. Currently rape kits are now performed by the Police forensic doctor.

The Barbados family planning is putting together a protocol for NGOs dealing with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

However while the forum did have reservations about this recommendation they concluded that new legislation is needed to facilitate the process of a sexual assault team working with the police on Victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Security of Shelters

The Forum did not approve this recommendation.

The Challenges of providing security for shelters in the region were discussed. The forums reservations about having an armed police presence at shelters were based on past experiences. Participants of the Forum recounted incidences where they were sheltering victims whose violent spouses had in fact been police officers or friends of police officers. These violent spouses had in fact turned up at the shelter as police officers to intimidate the victim.

An alternative suggestion to the recommendation was made.

The forum recommended that funding for the security of the shelter be provided by the government. Such funding should cover the cost of Video Cameras around the property to monitor the property, as well as private security and alarm systems.

Psychological counseling for the Police

The Forum agreed with this recommendation

The Health Sector in the region and its ability to cope with domestic violence

The Forum agreed with the recommendations falling under this heading.

The recommendations under this heading have already been discussed among the NGO sector in Barbados.

Where the establishment of a protocol for dealing with domestic violence victims is concerned the Forum felt that private doctors should be included in that protocol, and that mandatory reporting of cases of domestic violence should be required of private doctors as well.

The Forum agreed with the recommendation that the field of forensic nursing should be developed in the region. The Forum also agreed that there should be a forensic nurse attached to the Emergency room of each hospital for the purpose of gathering evidence as early as possible in the life of a case.

However the logistic of having a sexual response team as well as domestic violence units within the police force was discussed at length again. Finally the Forum decided that the initial evidence when dealing with the crime of rape and sexual violence should be gathered initially by the sexual response team as this was psychologically better for the victim. The DV unit would then take the case forward, by securing the evidence and investigating the case in general. Forensic nurses should be used to give testimony to the evidence in court.

The Forum agreed with the collection of data that would support analytical sociological research on the issue of domestic violence.

Mental Health Sector and coping with domestic violence in the region

The Forum agreed with the recommendations falling under this heading.

However for the recommendation of mandatory counseling for perpetrators of domestic violence, the forum added that in addition to counseling there should be sponsors for perpetrators of domestic violence, using the same system of sponsorship used by Alcoholics Anonymous .

The Education sector – Coping with Domestic violence in the region

The Forum agreed with the recommendation that age appropriate domestic violence awareness programs targeting teenagers and young adults should be implemented.

However the Forum added that these programs should also target children at a much earlier age in primary schools.

The Forum highlighted the fact that there was already in existence in Barbados an anger management and gender studies program for primary schools. This program is conducted by the NGO sector.

The forum also recommends under this heading training for teachers on the issues of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

List of Participating NGOs

National Committee for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Daughters of Destiny

Organization:      Men’s Educational Support Association (MESA)

Young Women’s Christian Association

Bureau of Gender Affairs

Barbados Mothers’ Union

Save Foundation

Israel Lovell Foundation

Women in Focus

Barbados Family Planning

Kiaros Academy

Sisters of Purpose Ministries

Women of Faith Ministries

National organization of Women


The VAW NGO Forum in Barbados was sponsored by The Dutch Embassy in Trinidad