Domestic Violence in Barbados accounted for 21% of murders between 2000 and 2007 according to statistics from the Royal Barbados Police. Barbados has no laws regarding the abuse of women; and on an island of 270,000 people, there is only one forensic nurse and only one shelter with the capacity for 15 women and their families. Some reports suggest the Caribbean has one of the highest incidents of sexual and domestic violence in the world.
As a part of its strategic initiative to address these alarming statistics, the U. S. Embassy Barbados in coordination with the U.S. State Department, invited Ulester Douglas, associate director Men Stopping Violence, to be their principal speaker and consultant for their Speaker Program on domestic violence, May 22 -28, 2011.
The invitation to Mr. Douglas, a renowned U.S. expert on domestic violence, symbolizes and raises the international awareness of the leadership that Men Stopping Violence provides in the work to end male violence against women. Douglas, a perfect choice as the principal speaker, brought qualities that few others could have brought to the table – professional knowledge and expertise combined with the rich cultural heritage of a native son. “Mr. Douglas was an excellent speaker, interacting professionally and personally with audiences of various levels and in venues from large public gatherings to small meetings with government ministers. His ties to the Caribbean, having been raised in St. Kitts, and his decades of experience in the United States enabled him to speak authoritatively about domestic violence prevention and intervention in the Caribbean context” attested Mary Greaves, from the U. S. Embassy Public Affairs Office.
Mr. Douglas’ itinerary in Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis included consultations with government officials and speaking events with “the front line workers”: social workers, law enforcement, medical personnel and counselors working directly with abusers and victims daily. Participants explored ways to strengthen the community’s response to male violence. According to Douglas, “They were very concerned and fully engaged in exploring solutions to the problems.”
The Caribbean Speaker Program started in Barbados on May 22, 2011 with a panel on The People’s Business (Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation), a live television program which takes calls from viewers. The panel included Ulester Douglas, Patricia Hackett-Codrington, Director of Gender Affairs and Mary Thompson, Barbados’ only forensic nurse. The official opening of the program was a Policymaker’s Consultation with Mr. Douglas, Eugene Sweeney, Charge D’Affaires U. S. Embassy, Roberta Clarke, Regional Program Director UN Women and Nurse Mary Thompson. This was followed by a public lecture in Bridgetown, a Workers Consultation in Christ Church and a Media Roundtable in St. Michael.
On May 25th, the program moved to St Kitts starting with a Meeting with the Ministry of Community Development, a press conference and Workers Consultation. On Friday May 27, the program concluded in Nevis with a Meeting with the Ministry of Social Development and a Workers Consultation.
The program was considered a great success. For more information about the Caribbean Speakers Program, go to the MSV facebook page. Kudos to Mr. Douglas for a job truly well done!