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In 2018, there were 260 reported cases of domestic violence in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in which females were the main victims in intimate partner relationships.

Minister of National Mobilisation, Frederick Stephenson told a press conference in Kingstown on Wednesday that this figure, however, reflected a 28% reduction in comparison with the data for 2017.

“While the public is requested to report cases of domestic violence and especially violence against women and girls, one case of violence is one case too much,” the minister said.

“Therefore, the core agencies are tasked with responding in a coordinated manner to ensure the safety and protection of victims, and the prosecution and rehabilitation of perpetrators,” he told the media.

The minister said his ministry has an active and on-going public awareness campaign to raise awareness on the issue of gender-based violence, the legislative and supportive structures, and programmes available for victims as well as perpetrators of violence.

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This is done through weekly radio programmes and the use of social media, namely, Facebook.

“This campaign is further galvanised during the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence that is commemorated between November and December annually,” he said.

Stephenson said that in August, his ministry requested technical support from the Human Dignity Trust towards a comprehensive review of discriminatory laws.

There was a particular focus on sexual offences laws that discriminate against women, girls and vulnerable groups encompassed in the Criminal Code of SVG.

The aim is to include recommendations for reform so as to reflect international good practice, including on issues such as rape and sexual assault (including whether the offences are consent-based, gender-neutral, object and orifice inclusive, and exclude marital rape exemptions), sexual offences relating to people with disabilities, and age of consent laws.

This consultancy is expected to be completed by November 2019 and the recommendations shared with stakeholders including the cabinet to decide on the next steps, he said.