Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 25th 2015 Contents A29
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Robert De Niro urged new gradu-
ates at New York University s Tisch
School of the Arts on Friday to keep
fighting to create careers in the arts
even though it probably would have
been easier if they had picked some-
thing more practical.
"The graduates in accounting?
They all have jobs. Where does that
leave you? Envious of those account-
ants? I doubt it. They had a choice.
Maybe they were passionate about
accounting, but I think it s more
likely they used reason and logic and
common sense to research a career,"
the two-time Academy Award win-
"But you didn t have that choice,
did you? You discovered a talent, de-
veloped an ambition and recognised
your passion. When you feel that,
you can t fight it. Just go with it.
When it comes to the arts, passion
should always trump common
De Niro, who quit high school to
pursue an acting career, was the hon-
ored speaker at the raucous ceremony
for 1,200 graduates at The Theater at
Madison Square Garden. (AP)
De Niro tells NY arts graduates 'You have to keep working'
One in every three women you meet is
traumatised by violence. This is evident
from a frightening World Health Organi-
sation (WHO) statistic: more than a third
of all women worldwide (35 per cent) have
been attacked violently by their intimate
partners, or have experienced sexual vio-
lence from a non-partner. Globally, the
WHO tells us, intimate partners commit as
many as 38 per cent of womens murders.
Far from being a private matter, domestic
violence is a major public health problem
affecting whole families and societies over
time, say experts. And although men are said
to commit a lot of the violence, women can
be guilty too, and victims can include children,
old people, and anyone living in the home
of an abuser. Feelings of shame and secrecy
within families and communities often mask
the problem until it s too late.
In the Caribbean, of those women who
have been attacked by partners, 28 to 64 per
cent of them do not even seek help or speak
to anyone about the attacks. This is according
to a 2013 report by the Pan American Health
Organisation (PAHO) cited in a March 2014
research note by The Ministry of the People
and Social Development.
In T&T, between 2009 and 2012, almost
12,000 domestic violence applications were
made in the Magistrate s Court, according
to a report by a group called the NGO
Caribbean Development Foundation (NCDF),
which recently completed a five-year Violence
Against Women campaign.
The campaign involved consulting a wide
range of NGOs from Jamaica, T&T, Suriname
and other Caribbean countries, and resulted
in a report called The Cascadia Protocol,
submitted to regional governments. A main
recommendation was the need for trained
Domestic Violence Units in the police service.
The NCDF reports that NGOs want gov-
ernments to listen to their advice, and make
better use of their skills. Such groups have
been working directly with domestic violence
victims for a long time, and have the expe-
rience, commitment and flexibility to be more
effective than well-intentioned but often
inflexible and limited government depart-
ments, says the NCDF.
Groping in the dark: The need for data
"I can t speak for anyone, but for myself,
I feel we re all just groping in the dark. Every
now and then, we become outraged when
we hear about a particular case in the media;
there s a lot of furore; and then it dies down.
There is no systematic way of collecting data.
The data is fragmented: you might get some
from the magistrates court, from social work-
ers, but nothing is pooled and analysed," said
accountant and social justice activist Carol
Daniel in a Guardian interview at the NCDF s
office in Tunapuna.
Carol Daniel founded the NCDF in 2007
to help develop capacity of a range of NGOs
in the region. And she s passionate about the
Cascadia Protocol recommendations, espe-
cially the need to take domestic violence seri-
ously enough to measure it properly.
"We need to collect data in a systematic
way, from different sectors---health, police,
judiciary, from across the board; and have
one body collate that data and analyse it.
Then we d have a better understanding of
what we re dealing with," she said.
Bring a Domestic Violence Unit
"The most important recommendation for
me is the one that relates to the police: the
creation of a Domestic Violence Unit," said
"This is not a new idea...There have been
experiments, but I would like to see it fully
implemented. More manpower needs to be
put towards the issue of domestic violence."
"Also important for me is the ability to
charge a suspect without direct input from
the victim," said Daniel, "so that the police
can go ahead and build a case and not have
to rely exclusively on the victim to testify.
Because often the victim is intimidated, her
livelihood may be affected.
"I would like to see them be able to charge
a suspect without relying 100 per cent on
the victim to testify....The police may stand
a better chance of going through the system
and completely prosecuting someone and
having that person pay for the crime. If it is
totally dependent on the victim, there s a
strong chance that the victim will not testify
when that time comes---and the case falls
• Continues on Page A30
NGOs lobby for Domestic Violence Unit in each cop shop
More than a third of all women worldwide (35 per cent) have been attacked violently by their intimate partners, or have experienced sexual
violence from a non-partner, according to statistics gathered by the World Health Organization. And intimate partners commit as many as 38
per cent of womens' murders.
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