Front Page
April 16, 2010
Matthews: Approach to Crisis/Trauma Centre for battered women wrong

Barbara Matthews, a senior social worker here, believes the state’s approach towards establishing a Crisis/Trauma Centre for battered women and other victims of domestic abuse is wrong.{{more}}

This is clearly not so, contests Rosita Snagg, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Mobolization, under whose portfolio the new centre falls. The crisis centre is nearing its completion and is set to open its doors this year at Kingstown Park in the building which formerly housed Bella Vista Inn.

Last June the government received EC$425,257 from the Social Investment Fund (SIF) which assisted in funding the rehabilitation of the building.

When contacted on the issue, Snagg told SEARCHLIGHT instead of rebutting Matthews’ comments she would rather set the record straight.

The Permanent Secretary noted that Matthews and others were invited to make contributions as to the way forward in the setting up of a crisis centre, but they declined and have now chosen to criticise.

“They were the ones who make noise and say St.Vincent and the Grenadines did not have a crisis centre. When we were calling on persons like her to make their contribution to us they never attended meetings. When the crisis centre came on stream that is when they saw it fitting to come and the only thing they can do is criticise,” said Snagg frankly.

Making a presentation as a panelist last Tuesday evening at a forum staged by the People’s Movement for Change (PMC) on the issue of human sexuality, Matthews called for a proper shelter for battered women, expressing that she is not satisfied with the one that is being set up at Kingstown Park.

“There is something in the works I hear say, but the way it looks from where I sit, I have already said categorically that whatever is going to be opened, however soon or however long, as a crisis centre, it is going the wrong way down or the wrong way up or the wrong way across,” said Matthews.

One of Matthews’ grouses is that the shelter is being constructed in the wrong location.

“No where in the world does the populace know that this is a crisis centre or a battered women’s shelter.These are places that are not known. Where it is located, you cannot ask the people to close their eyes, their noses, their mouths and their ears,” stressed Matthews.

She argued that the institution’s proximity is also too close to the law courts.

Matthews noted that the way things are going in St.Vincent and the Grenadines, she believes the day the shelter is opened it will be full to capacity, which will result in more problems rather than help.

Responding to Matthews position on the issue, Snagg stated at the moment St.Vincent and the Grenadines does not have a crisis centre, but it is important that it take steps in this direction to provide shelter for persons who are abused.

“I will like to ask Ms. Matthews where in St.Vincent can you set up a crisis centre that people will not know,” said Snagg.

She added that persons in distress are not criminals and therefore they don’t necessarily have to be hidden away.

“I could take her to St.Lucia and to Jamaica and show her where the crisis centres are situated,” Snagg pointed out.

“Isn’t it better that we have something than have nothing at all?” Snagg responded.

Meanwhile, Matthews is also calling on the relevant authorities to establish a Department of Childrens’ Services which can serve the public as a one stop shop.

She made the call as she spoke of steps the state and NGOs can take to protect children.

“We need to have a Department of Children’s Services with all the relevant expertise sitting under one roof. So that when you go to family services you know if that’s the place, you don’t have to go out wondering how to find the police, how to find doctor, how to find social worker, find nurse, find whoever,” stated Matthews.

“You need just a one stop shop that everybody can come to and get expertise,” she added.