Improving legal and social policy responses to domestic violence - The need for data

Date: Friday, October 10, 2008

Countries in the process of implementing data collection protocols for gender-based violence (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago) met in a one day meeting on 25 September in Grenada with the technical support of UNIFEM, PAHO and UNFPA, to discuss progress on the implementation of an integrated data collection system to track reports of domestic violence.

The absence of consistent information about domestic violence affects the capacity of policy makers: to obtain a profile of victims and perpetrators; to understand the frequency and incidence of violence; to identify the groups at risk; to develop intervention programmes; and to monitor the effectiveness of violence prevention and intervention activities.

The protocol which is under development in Barbados, Dominica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago seeks to bring together multiple data sources from the police, courts, health centres and crisis centres on such variables as: 1) Characteristics of the incident 2) Characteristics of the Victim 3) Characteristics of the Perpetrator 4) Legal and other remedial actions taken.

The information collected is expected to assist in trends and causal analysis. Policy makers and service providers should have the evidence base to fashion more targeted programmes to prevent domestic violence, to protect victims and to stregthen accountability systems.