Community members discussed what Columbia needs to prevent violence against women at a meeting Monday night.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services presented its plan to prevent violence against women so it can be evaluated by Columbia residents.
The plan is intentionally vague, meeting director Wilson Watt said. Watt, an associate professor of social work at MU, said the 16 objectives in the plan are broad enough to allow each community room to shape them to fit their specific needs, but specific enough for each agency to find where they fit in.
Some objectives are so far-reaching that they aim to change societal views and community norms to prevent violence by working with media outlets and by conducting community education campaigns. The plan calls for people to be aware of the scope and severity of violence against women by counteracting such violence in movies, television, magazines and advertisements.
The challenge for each community was to identify specific ways the objectives can be accomplished locally.
Structuring the final plan
About 40 people attended the meeting at the Activity and Recreation Center. The meeting which broke into small discussion groups after the plan was presented. The primary concerns of each group were recorded by department facilitators to be used in structuring the final plan.
The primary concerns for those attending the meeting included:
- How to better provide legal representation for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
- How data can be accurately collected if most incidents of violence against women are not reported.
- n How to represent diverse communities including the gay, bisexual, transgendered, disabled, deaf, aging and Latino communities.
- How to make the legal system accountable from arrest and conviction to sentencing and parole.
- How to get agencies to use available training to deal with domestic violence and sexual assault.
- How to incorporate the voice of the victims.
- How to fund the objectives of the plan.
The final plan will incorporate the findings from each town-hall meeting across the state. Joy Oesterly, injury prevention director for the department, said two meetings have been added: one in West Plains on April 1 and one at MU sometime in April. Oesterly said the department will loosely oversee implementation of the final plan. She said it would come back to the communities to show the plan with their questions incorporated at the end of the summer.