|Women against Violence: Breaking the Silence (UNIFEM, 1997, 116 p.)|
|Taking Action Against Violence: A Case Study of Trinidad and Tobago|
The Rape Crisis Society sees sexual violence as rooted in gender relations, sexuality, family relationships and cultural attitudes. Its members recognize that deteriorating economic conditions serve to exacerbate an already serious problem of sexual violence, as many, especially young men, are unable to cope with the changed gender roles resulting from social and economic pressures and instead turn to violence and drugs to counteract the stress and uncertainty they experience.
Excessive consumption of alcohol, disputes over meals, jealousy, possessiveness, differing expectations about how the role of husband or wife should be performed, and joblessness are all associated with gender-based violence. However, at the heart of the decision to rape, batter and intimidate women (and children) is the ideology of male ownership of women, the many cultural messages in songs and jokes which endorse domestic violence and social conditioning which defines men and women as unequal. Thus sexual and domestic violence must be redefined, not as a private and personal matter about which neighbours and communities say nothing, but as an issue for public discussion and debate. Public debate also allows men to speak, highlighting cultural norms that legitimise male violence as well as enabling them to voice their feelings and concerns about their changing roles.
The removal of domestic violence from the recesses of the home and its exposure to public scrutiny affords communities the opportunity to break the culture of silence and focus on non-violent forms of conflict management and improved self-esteem. The Rape Crisis Society seeks to build awareness that collective action must be based on the realization that while the family is held as sacred, the welfare of individual family members is equally important.