On December 7, 2020, State Secretary Paul Blokhuis (VWS) and representatives of the public bodies of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba signed an administrative agreement to tackle domestic violence and child abuse in the Caribbean Netherlands together.
Information, women’s shelters and hotline
The new administrative agreement is a follow-up to the first steps taken with the 2017-2020 administrative agreement of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the public entities of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. Prevention of violence and abuse is essential. Good education and information are important to achieve this. Specialist officers have been appointed and trained. A women’s shelter has been started on Bonaire and a safe shelter is also in preparation on Saba and St. Eustatius. A central reporting point (hotline) for professionals is being realized on Bonaire. In the first quarter of 2021, this will also be achieved on Saba and St. Eustatius.
Prevent and combat violence
Domestic violence and child abuse are still common in the Dutch Caribbean, as several studies have shown. In 2016, the Istanbul Convention in the European Netherlands came into effect. This is a convention aimed at preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. This is a standard approach to these forms of violence. With the administrative agreement, steps are being taken to ensure that an approach also meets these requirements in the Dutch Caribbean. When drawing up the agreement, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the public bodies, therefore, looked at the recommendations such as those of UNICEF, in the Situational Analysis of 2019.
The parties involved emphasize the importance of professionalizing the approach to domestic violence and child abuse in the Dutch Caribbean. A joint and integrated approach is important there. With this new administrative agreement for 2021-2024, the public bodies and the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport are jointly working on the agreed priorities to further improve the approach.
The main spearheads are combating domestic violence and child abuse through, among other things, good information and training a wide range of committed professionals. There will also be an accessible way to report (suspected) domestic violence and child abuse. In addition, the assistance and cooperation between care, police and judicial partners will be further strengthened. Attention also goes to supporting the perpetrator and his/her network to prevent repetition. If necessary, existing legislation and regulations will be supplemented to provide legal support for tackling domestic violence and child abuse.
Tackle all forms of domestic violence and child abuse
The approach is aimed at preventing and combating all forms of domestic violence and child abuse, including psychological abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse. The approach differs per island. That’s because the problems and culture on each island are different. Domestic violence often goes hand in hand with other problems, such as poverty, debt, and unemployment. But also psychological problems and alcohol or drug use. These problems must also be addressed in tackling domestic violence and child abuse. A broad approach is therefore important and all parties are committed to do this.