BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - WITH both St. Kitts and Nevis reporting increased numbers of instances of domestic violence during the recent COVID-19 lockdowns, Minister of Gender Affairs Eugene Hamilton said the Government is looking to stamp out the growing problem.
During an interview with SKNVibes the Minister acknowledged that domestic violence has been a problem facing the Government for a number of years, but the time has come for the issue to be addressed.
One measure that the Minister indicated is the strengthening of the board that has responsibility for managing cases in which children are involved, noting that the Ministry must now ensure that children are properly served.
“At the moment we are looking at how we can get people to do better quality work, and when you have the numbers increasing and the same level of staff you always have these challenges. I can tell you that the Ministry is on the ball with it at the moment, “the Minister explained.
Discussions are being held between the top officials at the Ministry and the best position on the way forward could be made in the coming weeks.
On the broader question of having the Department of Gender Affairs and the Police working together, Minister Hamilton explained that there has been great synergy between the two agencies, but at this time a greater effort would be had since the law enforcement agencies do not have their hands filled with homicide and large instances of criminal activities.
“It offers them a greater opportunity to be engaged in some of these incidences that are creating mortality issues. And the police are now in a position to spend more time policing issues dealing with gender affairs and domestic violence,” he added.
Hamilton, while reiterating the need to assist children, disclosed that they are diversion programmes in place for children who committed illegal acts or need social support coming out of a domestic violence environment.
Minister Hamilton, who also holds the portfolio of Human Settlement, acknowledged that housing is another issue with domestic violence patience, and providing assistance to those in need is another area of focus.
“We have house persons who have had challenges with children and we are going to be doing more of that in the area of Human Settlement during this term. We will be building more homes that can facilitate individuals who are challenged by domestic violence,” Minister Hamilton revealed.