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UWP Condemns Recent Brutal Murders and calls for Increased Protection for Victims of Domestic Violence in Dominica

The Dominican public is saddened by the recent senseless and brutal murders of two Dominican women, allegedly at the hands of their abusive partners. Dr. Velma Valmond of the Kalinago Territory and Avonnel Charles of Morne Prosper both suffered violent deaths from those who would normally be expected to protect them. Let me on behalf of the United Workers Party extend heartfelt and sincere condolences to the families of those impacted by these tragic events, while strongly condemning these acts of violence.

Their deaths come at a time when families are normally celebrating love and togetherness during the Christmas holidays and looking forward with considerable expectations to the New Year. This incident, therefore, makes an already tragic and senseless situation even more unbearable to the families.
The deaths of Dr. Valmond and Ms. Charles along with the deaths of those who have suffered a similar fate in the past should not be allowed to go in vain. In addition to bringing those responsible to justice, now is an opportune time to focus our attention on the increasing incidents of domestic violence and abuse particularly directed against women and girls that continues to plague our island nation; and send a strong message to the perpetrators that any act of violence is unacceptable.
Indeed, these latest incidents are part of an ongoing and alarming pattern of abuse and domestic violence against women and girls. An important question to consider is whether those facing such violent abuse have recourse to the government or other support programs. For example, is there a hotline that they can call confidentially to report abuse, or to seek counseling? What about targeted campaigns aimed at those who would commit such acts of violence?
I note that our current government has allowed institutions like the Bureau of Gender Affairs, Women’s Bureau, and even the welfare division, which played key roles in providing support to women in the past, to continue operations without the necessary resources that they require.

While our government is quick to dispense millions of flying-in entertainers from around the globe it seems unwilling or unable to invest in the welfare of its people. Victims of domestic violence should have recourse to professional help and should not feel like they must shoulder the burden on their own. The UWP, therefore, appeals to the government to invest in various programs including a hotline, provision of a safe haven, and other support mechanisms to a large number of women and girls who on an almost daily basis continue to be victims of abuse and domestic violence.
These victims should also be able to have swift recourse to our legal system that would provide them with the necessary protections.

Too many of these cases continue to languish before the courts, some for years on end. In that regard, the United Workers Party calls upon the authorities to tighten enforcement of existing legislation against perpetrators of such violence and deal expeditiously with the pending cases.
Also, we call on the government to review and strengthen existing laws to offer added protection from violence to our women and girls, as well as stiffen penalties for perpetrators. We also call on the government to ensure that measures are put in place to safeguard the dignity and integrity of our women and girls.
To the men of Dominica, I appeal to you to respect our women and girls. Violence of any kind against anyone in any relationship should never be an option. Find ways to speak through your differences and undertake to seek non-violent options to resolve them but show respect for those seemingly more vulnerable. Let us together work to end this cycle of domestic violence in Dominica.