The Caribbean Voice is thrilled that a Caribbean regional Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Workplace Policy has been finalised by employers and labour bodies.
Signed by heads of both the Caribbean Employers Confederation (CEC) and the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL), this policy is part of the UN/EU Spotlight Initiative, and “provides an essential framework to ensure that anyone experiencing GBV, including sexual abuse or harassment in the workplace, has greater access to coordinated support, including special leave, anonymous reporting, confidentiality, and employee assistance programmes.” In short, it aims at changing workplace culture relating to GBV with the hopeful goal of eliminating GBV.
As CEC President Wayne Chen indicated, “The policy will serve as a guide for employers to address GBV at two levels: primary prevention, by informing employers and employees what GBV looks like, so it can be prevented before it occurs; and secondary prevention, by protecting and/or reducing the risk of exposure to violence against women and girls (VAWAG).”
The CEC pledged to promote the adoption and distribution of the policy across its 14 member states, but we hope that it can be implemented in all Caribbean nations, and provided institutional support by Governments as a component of overall national GBV prevention framework.
Also, UNFPA Caribbean sub-Regional Liaison, Aurora Noguera-Ramkissoon, pointed out that “Any worker who is being abused, the unions have to support them. What we have to recognise is that the challenge won’t be solved overnight, but we have given the commitment to engage the wider community, from the point of view of labour, through our shop steward system, our engagement with our workers, constant reminders, constant workshops, constant reminders and re-examinations and explanations of the goals.”
Given the entrenched attitudes of some employers, institutionalising the policy would serve to ensure its application across the board at both employer and union levels. And it can indeed fill significant missing gaps in attempts to take GBV prevention across each nation, by enabling effective help wherever there are employers and employees.
Perhaps, too, victims who fall through the cracks, especially because of Police inaction and citizens’ reluctance to be involved, may more effectively be protected.
Meanwhile, The Caribbean Voice appeals to friends and families of victims who leave their abusers to please do not attempt to get victims and abusers to ‘make up’. As so many cases have shown, such attempts can cause victims to be murdered, the latest being Cindy Ramotar in Guyana, who was killed by her abuser after a well-meaning relative informed the abuser of Cindy’s whereabouts in order to help them make up.
Besides abuse being an awful horrible crime and the safety of victims must never be compromised, any sort of intervention is a job for trained professionals who possess the necessary skills. So, instead of creating scope that can lead to femicide, show your love by doing all you can to protect the victims and hold abusers accountable.
The Caribbean Voice