Workshop aims at eliminating barriers for Spanish-speaking victims

A three-day training programme for first responders, anti-rape advocates and counsellors specialising in sexual violence affecting the Hispanic community began yesterday at Heritage Hotel.

The initiative is aimed at improving the skills of first responders, with an overall view to eradicating the language barrier female victims encounter.

President of Women Against Rape (WAR) Alexandrina Wong said the programme will provide training to seven bilingual people who will be certified in handling the initial stage of the recovery process after sex-based violence.

“We will be focusing on the issues that come directly after a call is made to the advocate, responder or counsellor,” Wong said. “It also focuses on how a person should respond to the call and what are the specific questions to be asked by the responder.”

The sessions are being co-sponsored by the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance (CHAA).

Louise Tillotson, programme officer of CHAA, a group that focuses on increasing health care to marginalised communities, said gender inequality is a serious problem in society.

“Gender-based violence: rape and sexual assaults are gender inequalities in its worst manifestations, and when you couple this with discrimination against migrant women who don’t speak English, you get a situation where the incidents are not reported and women are not coming forward for medical care and this is a concern for us,” Tillotson told The Daily OBSERVER.

“We wanted to support this venture to try and build the capacity of front-line providers to respond to rapes against Spanish-speaking women,” she added.

Yesterday’s session, facilitated by Clovis St Romain, focused on responding to calls and effective communication.

The remainder of the sessions will include instructions from a medical practitioner from Mount St John’s Medical Centre on the Protocols For Rape Victims at the facility. Craig Rijkaard, from the Directorate of Gender Affairs, will facilitate Review of Human Sexuality and Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

Other sessions will address the role of the advocate in courtroom accompaniment and issues in drug-facilitated assaults.

The programme will end on Thursday afternoon with a brief graduation ceremony.

At the end of the training, according to the organisers, participants should be able to elicit and record pertinent information about victims and the place and nature of the incident. They should also know how to guide victims to immediate safety and through immediate care and follow-up procedures, including health care, the legal process and counselling. Participants should also be able to maintain the integrity of any evidence gathered.