Trinidad and Tobago

Population size: 

1,399,617 [1]

Number of people experiencing domestic abuse each year:

In the last 12 months, 6% reported physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence. However, many cases go unreported. [2]

The Crime and Problem Analysis (CAPA) Branch of the Trinidad & Tobago Police Service (TTPS) reported approximately 11,441 cases of domestic abuse between 2010-2015. 75% of these related to female victims. During the same period, 131 homicides related to domestic abuse occurred of which 56% were female. [3]

No research on male victims or other gender identities.

Cost of domestic abuse to the economy each year:

Cost of domestic abuse to individuals, the state, and businesses is approximately $8,250 to $12,500 per person. [4]

Estimated % change due to COVID-19:

On 9 April 2020, the Commissioner of Police shared data confirming a rise in domestic abuse cases. In February 2019, 39 reports were made whereas in February 2020 there were 73 reports. In March 2020, there were 96 reports. In total in 2019, 232 were reported whereas already in 2020 there had been 558. However, the increase in reports may, in addition to COVID-19, be related to the January 2020 launch of a Gender-Based Violence Unit which encouraged disclosures. [5]


Current law and policy:

The Domestic Violence Act (passed in 1991, revised in 1999 and amended in 2006) serves as the governing law on domestic violence. The Act defines domestic violence as any type of physical, emotional, financial or sexual abuse. The Act is not meant as an alternative to the criminal process. It extends the range of remedies available. The Act mandated a ‘National Domestic Violence Register’, however, this does not appear to be implemented. [6]

Trinidad & Tobago has committed to a number of regional and international treaties relating to VAWG, including: The Convention on the Rights of the Child, signed in 1990, ratified in 1991; The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified in 1990; The Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women, ratified in 1996; the Montevideo Consensus and others. The Government has additionally passed a wide range of domestic legislation to ensure compliance with these, including: The Children Act 2012; Sexual Offences Act 2012; Child Marriage Act 2017; Trafficking in Persons Act 2011; and the Domestic Violence Act 1999. [7]

UN Women assesses that the legal framework which protects women and girls from gender-based violence by way of the Constitution, Acts of Parliament and rules from the common law. An act which causes physical injury can be prosecuted under the Offences Against the Person Act and the common law. The domestic abuse legislation, extends this to provide protection from physical and sexual violence in the home, but is not meant to exclude the criminal law but increases the options available. [8]


Despite this progress, data collected and analysed in the 2017 Trinidad and Tobago Women’s Health Survey (WHS)—a national, quantitative, cross-sectional survey of 1,079 women ages 15–64 – revealed: 30% of ever-partnered women experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Significant risk factors associated with Intimate Partner Violence were identified: lower education (female and partner), cohabitation without marriage, rural residency, younger age, non-consensual marriage, having been pregnant, having experienced or witnessed violence in childhood, substance abuse by the partner and the partner being unemployed and having been in prior relationships. The report found that most survivors did not seek help or receive assistance. Women tended to seek help from their family, in particular their mother, rather than official services such as the police or social services. Factors preventing women from accessing these streams of help included: fear, shame and the normalcy of violence. [9]


Public spending - the costs of providing physical and mental health, police and judicial services are significant at an estimated 1.6% to 3.7% of GDP. [10]


 

Sources


[1] Worldometer, “Trinidad & Tobago Population (Live)”, (worldometers.info)

[2] UN Women, “Global Database on Violence Against Women – Trinidad & Tobago”, (evaw-global-database.unwomen.org)

[3] http://www.opm-gca.gov.tt/Gender/GenderInitiatives/DomesticViolenceReport(s)

[4] p.3 of document last paragraph outlines cost categories, according to a study by Day,

McKenna and Bolus (2005)

[5] https://globalvoices.org/2020/04/10/stay-at-home-orders-accompanied-by-rise-in-domestic-violence-in-trinidad-tobago/

[6], [8] GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO - UN Women 2018 report file:///C:/Users/apipm/Downloads/20181011%20AF%20Trinidad%20and%20Tobago%20Health%20for%20digital.pdf

[7] Caribbean GBV Law Portal: Country Resources: Trinidad and Tobago

[9] Inter-American Development Bank Report: National Women’s Health Survey - Trinidad & Tobago, 2017

[10] https://blogs.iadb.org/caribbean-dev-trends/en/domestic-violence-cost-silent-reality/