Men and boys should be the primary targets of initiatives to counter domestic violence, APNU parliamentarian Volda Lawrence says.
Joining the budget debate on Thursday, Lawrence, who holds the shadow portfolio for human services, said she believed that women and girls were now an “endangered species.”
“It is time for our government to rise off their seats and give life to the many laws passed in this honourable House and assented to by the president as well as the several international conventions,” the MP said.
“I believe the time has also come when men and boys in our society should be our primary focus in the reduction of violence against our women and girls since 99.9 percent of the time they are the perpetrators.”
Lawrence added that new approaches were needed to deal with phenomenon. She called on MPs on both sides to support a motion in the name of her colleague Deborah Backer which seeks to combat interpersonal violence.
Addressing instances of child abuse she stated that despite the increased spending through in the area of child welfare attacks on children continued unabated.
“In 2012 we saw some 2,030 cases of abuse as against 1,860 in 2011 coupled with a high increase of neglected cases in 2012 totalling approximately 2,252 against 1,877 in 2011.
What is more disturbing Mr. Speaker is that mothers are listed as the number one abusers with fathers following closely behind.”
Lawrence added that there were high incidences of abuse and neglect in Regions Three, Four and Six with the numbers increasing in Region 10 and she called for special attention to be paid to child welfare in those regions.
The APNU MP noted that the government had announced during the second half of 2012 that the purchase of furniture and advertisements for staffing of the Family Court were on track.
“We are now some four months into 2013 and the Family Court which we have heard so much about is still a white elephant. We believe that notwithstanding the use of the Magistrate’s Court for some family matters the urgent establishment of the Family Court is necessary so I urge this government to get on with the business of having our Family Court operational,” she said.
Lawrence also called for special attention for adolescent mothers noting they faced the same challenges of their peers in addition to that of early pregnancy and motherhood. She suggested that the Minister of Human Services to prepare a policy paper on adolescent mothers and that measures be put in place to assist them in the interim.