Rape Crisis Centre of Trinidad and Tobago, Trinidad


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The Rape Crisis Society of Trinidad and Tobago (RCS) is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation established in 1984 by a group of concerned men and women, following an upsurge in media reporting on rape. The organisation is the countrys main group to actively address the issues of violence that impact on the most vulnerable members of society, particularly women and children. The mission of the RCS is accomplished through the provision of daily on-site counselling services at its two centres, a 24-hour hotline service and community-based outreach workshops. What makes this Centre unique is that it goes beyond traditional counselling of victims and has a preventive focus. The Centre serves as a model in the Caribbean for effective strategies to educate and sensitise the population about violence in order to prevent and reduce it. It has shown an understanding of the broader issues and teaches conflict resolution skills.

The organisation has a membership of 190 volunteers, although less than 1/3 of this number is active. A staff of six persons deal with the daily operations of the two centres and report via a co-ordinator to the management committee, elected annually by the general membership.

Initial funding for the organisation was from local and religious organisations and the Women's Desk of the Caribbean Conference of Churches. Over time, international funding from UNIFEM and CEBEHO, assistance from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, and the organisations own initiatives have provided the funding base.

The continuity of the organisation, commitment of members, recognition by other social services and survivors themselves have contributed to the major successes of the Society. These include:

- influencing change in legislation;
- catalysing creation of support services;
- accessibility of counselling services which have assisted in the empowerment of survivors of rape;
- continuing demand for programmes from a wide spectrum of community groups;
- co-hosting several international conferences; and
- developing an extensive knowledge of the issue of gender relations pertaining to violence.

Weaknesses include:

- lack of sustainable funding by the local community; which contributes to
- problems in maintaining full-time services; and
- difficulty in sustaining the level of expertise, skills and experience sometimes require d to propel the organization's activities.

The Centre continues to extend its network with local, regional and international agencies. It is working towards its goal of a one-stop shop, offering combined medical, legal, counselling and other services to the national community.