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PSI Research Dissemination

Violence against women and girls continues unabated in every continent, country and culture. It takes a devastating toll on women’s lives, on their families and on society as a whole. Most societies prohibit such violence – yet the reality is that too often, it is covered up or tacitly condoned. – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
One in three women experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime, most likely from their intimate partner, according to a report from the World Health Organization.
That report stated that women who have been physically and sexually abused are more likely to contract HIV/AIDS, to have an abortion, to be depressed, be subject to more frequent injuries, to experience alcohol use disorders and pregnancy complications.
Trinidad and Tobago is by no means exempt and the incidences of gender based violence that occur locally mirror those of global statistics. Violence against women and girls has been described as a health concern of epidemic proportions and locally, many organizations have been working assiduously to counter the threat.
PSI-Caribbean is one of the many involved in gender based violence (GBV) prevention and on March 14th 2016, shared the findings of its research study, Make It Stop – Gender norms and Intimate Partner Violence in three counties in Trinidad 2015. The dissemination and discussion session held at the Hotel Normandie brought together several members of civil society, activists, public and private sector representatives as well as media for what turned out to be a very interactive session.
In keeping with a worldwide thrust to reduce the occurrence of GBV, PSI-Caribbean’s “Make It Stop” GBV Prevention Project was initiated in 2014. PSI-Caribbean partnered with the Indrani’s Light Foundation to implement a three-year multi-component GBV prevention intervention in Trinidad. The primary objective of the project is to contribute to the reduction of the prevalence of GBV and to ensure the health and safety of those experiencing GBV, particularly women and girls, as well as to engage men and boys in the response.
In order to guide and support project implementation, PSI-Caribbean undertook qualitative and quantitative research, collecting data on physical, sexual and emotional violence experienced among women 18-49 years in the counties of Caroni, St George and Victoria. The quantitative and qualitative research study involved a series of focus groups with youth, in-depth interviews with survivors of intimate partner violence and household surveys that were conducted with over seven hundred (700) women. PSI-Caribbean’s Regional Program Director, Moira Lindsay shared the findings with the attendees.
The household survey instrument collected data relating to several types of inter-personal violence (IPV) among women 18 to 49 years in the counties under study. For the purposes of this analysis, the forms of IPV were classified as physical, sexual and emotional/psychological. IPV experiences which occurred within twelve (12) months of survey administration were recorded as distinct from those which the survivor experienced at any point in her personal history, allowing for calculation of both 12-month and lifetime prevalence indicators. Accordingly, all IPV indicators were calculated based only on the subset of women who had had at least one intimate partner in their lifetime. It should be noted that all survivors were asked only about violence experienced with their current or most recent partner. For univariate analysis, results were disaggregated by county and further by age to determine if the regional profiles were notable in any way.
Rich in information, the study in its entirety supports the need for more work to be done in gender based violence prevention. More focus should be given to knowledge of IPV and support services needs to be a focus of programming, as few women from the study (16.7 percent) were able to identify at least three (3) places that they can seek GBV support services. Consistent with this finding was that just 38.7 percent of women felt that they could access GBV support services if needed. In assessing what would keep women from accessing these support services when needed, 20.9 percent of women stated that they don’t think that they need such services, while issues of confidentiality (9.2 percent), fear (7.2 percent) and no confidence in the service being effective (6.1 percent) were the more common responses provided.
Based on the findings of the study, a list of recommendations was created. A necessary caveat is that, in many ways, the data has shown the need for more analysis in order to truly understand the phenomenon of IPV more definitively in the counties under study.
Emerging from this study are several valuable takeaways:
• There is need, at least in part, for a county-specific approach to programming.
• There is need for targeted youth interventions: Younger women are more vulnerable to IPV.
• Teach younger women networking skills: Women who felt more isolated in their personal lives (having no trusted confidantes) and in their communities (little cohesion), were generally more likely to have experienced IPV.
• Encourage youth to complete secondary school: Education in general emerges as perhaps the most valuable IPV preventive tool.
• Delaying the onset of sexual activity via sex education and increasing girls ‘sexual agency/negotiation skills is a potential programmatic target: Both bivariate and multivariate analysis pointed to a strong positive link between early first sex and IPV.
• Specific programmatic themes could include sensitisation on what the different forms of IPV are, how they present in real life scenarios and non-violent problem solving skills.
• Increase access to information about the risks of substance abuse and to recovery programmes: Both frequent alcohol use and illegal drug use may contribute to IPV on the part of the perpetrator.
• Increase agency for women in non-marriage partnerships: Over a third of the women in the sample were in non-marriage relationships and these women were generally more vulnerable to IPV.
• Positive Parenting programmes: Exposure to positive parenting programs can provide individuals, families, and communities with healthy ways of engagements
• Unnormalizing violence: Many participants indicated that violence was a normal and expected part of life, for them and their communities.
• Promoting awareness amongst survivors and social networks.
• Advocacy efforts with employers.
• Development of standardized operational guidelines for addressing IPV.
• Conflict Resolution workshops in community – exposing community to positive ways to handle conflict in their relationships (domestic and intimate).
• Developing programmes and interventions that speak to the reality of intimate relationships in a community (that, understands the prevalent types of relationships).
“While it is tempting to interpret the data presented in a way that segments certain members of society as being more or less likely to perpetrate or be recipients of violence, one has to be careful not to over-simplify the issue. The study shows certain levels of association with one variable over another, but does not explicitly state that this shows causality. PSI-Caribbean bases all of its programmatic work in evidence; in like fashion, the primary purpose of the study is to directly inform the way that the organization conducts its work in gender-based violence and to reach people in a way that helps them to reflect on how they see this issue and ultimately change behaviour with the goal of ending gender-based violence in Trinidad and Tobago. It also offers an opportunity for other entities to ask even deeper questions to get to the heart of the matter” said Marina Hilaire-Bartlett, PSI-Caribbean Executive Director.
Sharon Mottley, PSI-Caribbean, Program Assistant and GBV point person said “To effectively address the complexity of issues that constitute gender based violence in Trinidad and Tobago we have to adopt multi-pronged approaches. At PSI-Caribbean we see prevention as a core concern. If we are to reduce the prevalence of GBV and IPV we must effectively engage our young people, where they are within youth programs, schools, churches etc. We have to provide families- be them blended, extended or two parent households, with the skills and support to parent under the enormous stress and pressure they face. Thirdly, we have to partner with communities to create and sustain programs that raise awareness, educate, provide support and referral services.”
Thus it is clear that collaboration is key to the success of social initiatives and the discussion session at the end of the dissemination asked attendees to focus their thoughts on youth as being an integral part of ending gender based violence.
The session took an interactive workshop format and participants worked as groups to focus on youth interventions. As would be expected, the discussion was passionate as the guests comprised representatives from such entities as ChildLine, Rape Crisis Centre, UNFPA, the Inter-American
Development Bank, Institute for Gender and Development Studies (UWI), Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO), the Central Statistical Office and the Office of the Prime Minister – Gender Affairs Division, to name a few.

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