Two entities – one in law enforcement and the other a support organization for women – have come together to offer support and advice to vulnerable women concerning their safety and security.
The Antigua & Barbuda Support and Referral Centre (SARC), a department attached to the Directorate of Gender Affairs, in partnership with the Police Force, is expressing concern about some females’ vulnerability and is raising awareness among those who might be affected.
As the national agency charged with gender-based-violence prevention and response, the Directorate says it is aware that some women – especially those living alone – have had their privacy invaded and, in some instances, have also been assaulted.
According to the Police, they take these matters seriously. Therefore, they are working with the Directorate to provide a level of assurance that will enable women to feel secure and comfortable in their homes and elsewhere.
As a result, both entities are advising women, while home alone, to ensure that all windows and doors are locked securely, particularly sliding glass doors and push-up windows.
Another precaution is to always conduct a physical examination of one’s home to ensure that it is secure before leaving, the Police advise. And, where applicable, they should have proper lighting outside their homes at night when they are away, the Police say.
On their return, women should look for signs of break-in before re-entering their homes; and if there is anything unusual, they should remain outside the house and, where possible, alert neighbours and call the Police.
Further, the agencies say, women should check the identification of any sales or service personnel before letting them onto their property or homes.
Tips for walking/exercising in the early-morning hours include paying closer attention to surroundings and always being on the alert; staying in well-lit areas as much as possible; walking confidently at a steady pace on the side of the street facing traffic; and avoiding poorly lit paths, such as bushy areas and alleys.
If persons are assaulted, the Police say, they should try to remain as calm as possible while keenly observing the attacker, since any description provided may be useful to officers in their investigation.
Additionally, if women suspect someone is following them, they should walk into a store or knock on the door of a nearby house.
“If you, or anyone you know, may have been assaulted, please contact the SARC office without delay,” Gender Affairs advises.
The office offers support services, including forensic medical examination, counseling, and police intervention. The 24-hour SARC hotline is 463-5555 and the office is located on the corner of Nevis Street & Friendly Alley.