Dedicated to the Reduction and Elimination of Domestic Violence
- Domestic Violence and/or Abuse
- Sexual Assault
- Relationship or Family Problems
- Natural Disaster
- Mental Health
- Depression and/or Suicide
- Illness or Death
HISTORY OF THE ST.LUCIA CRISIS CENTRE
The year was 1986, eleven years since the United Nations ‘Decade For Women” jabs alerted women
worldwide that their group and clubs had to become involved in much more than delicate Tea Parties,
Tennis, Bridging and Badminton, and to take up the challenges of empowerment of Women and their
hitherto hidden talents to enter the world development on an equal basis with their fellow men.
The 1975 Nairobi Convention had endorsed a number of articles forming the basis for the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination against Women, opening the door to women in Big Business, Politics and
Here in St. Lucia a decade had produced a number of women’s organization, including our associate club
of the International Federation of business and Professional Women (BPWC).
The BPWC Charter President had just returned from an eight –year stay in Alberta Canada and was re-
elected that year. Having found no visible sign of the implementation of the convention locally, she
steamed up with the president of the National Council of Women’s Volunteer organization (NCWVO)
and called on the incumbent Minister for Community Development who lost no time in organizing a
Women’s Desk in his Ministry and appointing the two on an Advisory Committee to that department.
The first task was researched for the formulation of the National Policy for women of Saint Lucia as
required for all governments who were signatory to the Convention. It was during research in connection
with determining the status of women that the passivity and helplessness of our women first surfaced.
Coming across two women idly sitting by a roadside in Vieux Fort our cherry “Good Morning” was
returned by a grumpy, barely audible suspicion and lack of interest.
Carefully asking about schooling we were angrily asked “what schools that you asking me about, the man
not giving me two cents and you asking me about school?” Both women then turned their backs to us; as
for them; this was the end of the conversation.
“But what about the Government Social Services? They can help you get maintenance for the children
their father so u can send them to school,” I volunteered
The reaction as swift and surprising. One woman reared herself erect, hands on hips and facing us, asked:
“SO is to court you want me to bring by child’s father?” Taken aback by her attitude I asked for an
explanation in the most conciliatory tone I could muster, but they remained aggressively adamant,
repeating: “I’m not taking any father of my child to court!”
This is unbelievable, I thought as flashes of positive effects of my training abroad as a counsellor crossed
my mind. “How do you plan to educate your children? There are so many more schools on the island now
than before.” Flatly and unhesitatingly she answered: “I’ll give them fig vet (green fig) to eat.”
That was it! “Oh my god” I said aloud, “We need a CRISIS CENTRE in this country…….”
What We Did
Fortunately, or frenzied proposal for Crisis Centre Received unstinted supported form the incumbent
Ministry for Community Development and Social Services, Mr. Romansus Lansiquot , the BPWC and the
The Florida Association of Voluntary agencies, Caribbean Action, (FAVA/CA) were invited in as
consultants, and training in Crisis Intervention and Counselling commenced.
The NCWVA turned over to the project committee a room allocated to them for meetings by
Government, who had leased on the top floor of the Monplaisir Building on Brazil Street. The incumbent
local Secretary General of UNESCO Miss Lawerence Laurent , funded office furniture and equipment
and certain Friends of the Crisis Centre provided the typewriter, shelves and moral support, which
enabled us to open our door on 27th October, 1988.
During the period of October —December 1988, new clients numbered four, but to date, we have
recorded over six thousand, of which two thousand are repeat cases who have continued on for advice,
counseling or assistance for all forms of domestic violence whether physical, sexual or emotional.
In August 1989, our first demonstration to draw public attention to the extent of criminal domestic
violence against women and children drew hundreds. The trigger was the murder of a woman, her head
chopped off with a cutlass stroke by her common-law partner for reporting, despite his threats, his rape of
teenage daughter. Mary Rackiffe was (and is) a Martyr who stood up for her daughter’s rights, something
too many before (and since) fail to do.
We marched again on the anniversary of our first march, to protest the fact that little had been done to
alleviate the situation. We did, however, receive tremendous public support.
At the stage, and until 1993, all of us in Crisis Centre were all voluntary, fortified by Peace Corps
Volunteers and Canadian VSO. We worked eight hours per day for five days a week and more when
there was a crisis, for we had a very active hot-line available 24 hours per day. Training workshop and
seminars continued and we were invited to serve on boards and committees. Calls came for our
counselors to lecture at schools, and other women’s organizations. Our small library has been in constant
use by students and other preparing papers on domestic violence.
Our printed brochures define the objectives of the committee and outlined our plans for action in the
I. Set up office and formalize plans for a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
II. Organize training workshops and a hot-line telephone service
III. Build a secure shelter to temporarily sheltered victims while they are still in danger.
The Centre is a non-profit, non-political, inter-denominational, non-Government organization (NGO)
registered under the laws of Saint Lucia. It is managed by an Executive Committee in collaboration with a
Board of Directors.
The Executive consist of a President, Vice President, Treasurer and Executive Secretary, as well as
chairperson of following Sub committees: Legal, Education and Research, Counselling, Fund Raising and
Projects. General meeting are held monthly, and the executive meets when necessary.
Annual General Meetings are held; the most recent in September 1997. Membership is available on my
payment if a $10 Registration fee and Annual Subscription of $20. CONFIDENTIALITY is a strict
component of our service which is free to all and a CONSENT FORM for referrals outside our office
must be signed. Referrals are sent to existing service such as the Government Social Services, Family
Court, the Police or any other pertinent agency.
A 24-hour HOT-LINE SERVICE (452-8799) ensures help for victims after office hours, weekends and
The Women’s Desk graduated into a Ministry of Women’s Affairs and as a result, laws were enacted to
make domestic violence a criminal offence on the law book of Saint Lucia by the Domestic Violence Act
The Family Court Act (1994) came on stream in 1996 and provides for cases of child maintenance and
appropriation of earnings, spousal or partner abuse and child custody, all of which should serve to prevent
abuse of this nature.
The Closed Court Heating Act passes even before the above, should be more widely known ( and used) to
alleviate fears of publicity in case of rape, incest and other forms of sexual assault.
Foster Education Programme
We must point out the benefits of our efforts though which sponsors have been found or supply school
books and uniforms for the large number of destitute families. We also provide statistics (without names)
on Domestic Violence to specific government departments and others.
In respect, or very survival has been almost miraculous. Donations from The Friends of the Crisis Centre,
a 3-year subvention form the St. Lucia Cooperative Bank (not renewed) and Barclays Bank (PLO)
(renewed) were our first props. Then in 1993 government budgeted
$60,000 for operation of a donation shelter building. (The building was immediately re-approached and
placed by a lot of land.) Permission was granted to use the money to extend our business operation, and
previously rend free office occupancy was withdrawn, the $60,000 was assigned to the women’s Desk
and since 1995, $3,000 a month has been available for use as a small honorarium for office staff and
payment of counselors, all of whom are academically trained and qualified.
Our greatest help, however, has come from the Catholic Social Service of Germany which responded to
many appeals from the Archbishop Kelvin Felix of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Castries. Help heist
came in the form of paid office personnel, then by direst grant. DM$50,000 was made available with the
stipulation that only staff should benefit. This has now been retrenched because of their economic
There is no home for pregnant teenage runaways sleeping girls and young unmarried mothers. Almost all
become school dropouts and anywhere and surviving by the sale of their bodies to many man acting under
the guise of a new lover. There is nowhere for them to go for help and rehabilitation.
WE NEED A HOME FOR GIRLS.
As a stop- gap we need to encourage more foster parenting and supervised Legal Adoption. There should
be funding for help to people that shelter neglected, abandoned and abused children.
Education to enable economic Independence for women who now have no choice but to turn to another
man when they find themselves in an abusive relationship.
It is fashionable in certain areas if the local media to destructively criticize and ridicule the work of the
voluntary NGO’s who have contributed and continued to do much to alleviate and Educate the public to
the very real danger to our society if present conditions and trends are allowed to continue. Laws to
regulate irresponsible behavior by the media should be tightened.
We need more and cheaper day care centers and preschools so that mothers can be available for the
Violence eradication, particularly violence against women and children, need the support of all
government departments, the police and the general public. This will require a massive public education
campaign, but it must be done
Prepared by Ione Erlinger –Ford.1998
The Centre continues its work as set out by Mrs. Ford and handles all crisis situations, making referrals to
relevant agencies as the need requires.
Ione Erlinger Forde Education Programme
The Foster Education Programme is now the Ione Erlinger-Forde Education Programme ;
Sponsorship for this programme has come from the US Embassy; NICE Project; Australian High
Commission in T&T; The Sandals Foundation; Pawasol Pour TiMamai and individual benefactors.
Carasco & Son Ltd. has extended their support in granting the use of the ground floor of 107 Chaussee
Road for the Afterschool Programme.
The Afterschool Programme caters to approximately forty (40) children; with programs ranging from life
skills to academic and recreational activities.
May Mrs. Ford’s legacy live on!!!
Antonia Jean, Managing Director