Statement of Deputy Premier Hon. Dancia Penn, British Virgin Islands
Twelfth Sitting of the Third Session of the First House of Assembly
Mr. Speaker, some months ago, I stated in this Honourable House that The Government, through the Ministry of Health and Social Development, had embarked on “Partnership for Peace: A Violence Intervention Programme”.
Spearheaded by the Office of Gender Affairs, the initiative is being undertaken with support from the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), Caribbean Office, in Barbados.
Mr. Speaker, it is no secret that domestic violence continues to plague our region and the rest of the world. Admittedly, here in the British Virgin Islands, we are not insulated from the problem. That is why Partnership for Peace: A Violence Intervention Programme, which is a 16-week psycho-educational programme, is an important one for us to introduce and maintain in the British Virgin Islands.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that the first cycle of the Partnership for Peace Programme has been completed, and that it has been rated as a success by UNIFEM. It lasted from February 3 - May 19, 2010. Six participants were referred to the programme by the Magistrate’s Court. Their ages ranged from 21-50 years. To date none of the participants from the first cycle has reoffended, and it is expected that the tools that they received over the 16 weeks would make them think twice about repeating the offence.
Some of the topics covered during the initial cycle, Mr. Speaker, were: understanding and managing feelings-managing life’s transitions, effective communication, conflict resolution, family history, manhood, womanhood, power and control in relationships, sexuality, STI’s and HIV prevention, among others.
I am happy to also report that the second cycle of the programme started with nine men on May 27 and will end on September 9, 2010. As of today’s date, seven men remain in the second cycle.
I am indeed pleased to be able to report to this Honourable House that in the first and second cycles the men have bonded very well with each other. Participants have been responding well to the programme, and early indications are that the Partnership for Peace Violence Intervention Programme is poised to have a very positive impact on the social fabric of this Territory.
Mr. Speaker, last week, a UNIFEM team visited the Territory from July 7 - 9 to monitor and evaluate the programme and to ensure that there is adherence to programme. They met with the Partnership for Peace team, including the Programme Director and the current facilitators to get their feedback on the impact of the programme on the participants. The OGA also organized its second progress report meeting on July 9 with key stakeholders and the trained facilitators, where feedback from the participants of the programme was reported by the facilitators, programme coordinator and clinical supervisor.
Mr. Speaker, the preliminary feedback I received from the Programme Director was heartening. In addition, the UNIFEM team reported that the programme is well managed, and they commended the Government of the Virgin Islands for its commitment and dedication to the programme. UNIFEM will submit a full report to the Ministry of Health and Social Development within a month.
Mr. Speaker, the Government is very grateful to UNIFEM and its team for this partnership to end the scourge of violence against women and girls in the Territory.
We are particularly very grateful for the technical and financial support UNIFEM has provided for the successful implementation of Partnership for Peace: A Violence Intervention Programme. Government, through the Ministry of Health and Social Development, is anticipating a long-lasting partnership with UNIFEM.
Thank you Mr. Speaker.