LIHU‘E — Domestic violence prevention advocates on Wednesday pointed to legislative and legal changes for more effective prosecutions and better awareness over the past year.
The Domestic Violence Awareness Month kicked off at the Ka Hule Maka‘i O Kaua‘i building, where elected state officials and the offices of the Mayor and Prosecuting Attorney presented certificates of appreciation to the Kaua‘i Police Department and YWCA Kaua‘i for their role in doing more to protect families.
The presence of community-wide leadership served to convey a message that domestic violence has no place in homes, neighborhoods, schools or the workplace. Purple ribbons were handed out in tradition of the two decades-old symbol to “honor loved ones who have lost their lives at the hands of a person they once loved and trusted,” said County Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, who officiated the event.
Iseri-Carvalho said there were 206 domestic violence cases between July 2010 and June 2011, of which 123 were closed, resulting in 121 convictions, two acquittals and the remaining cases pending. She said this 98 percent conviction rate was the result of her office working with KPD to present police reports, investigations and interviews that improve the chances of prosecution.
Iseri-Carvalho also credited deputy prosecuting attorneys Rebecca Vogt and Lisa Arin for working on call 24/7 with KPD Domestic Violence Coordinator Gena Kaulukukui and county Victims Witness Program Advocate Marla Torres-Lam. Together they ensure victims are interviewed properly for trial and that their safety needs are handled in conjunction with the YWCA shelter and social services.
The safety of victims is the number one priority, Kaulukukui said. Then they can begin to explain the legal process and what the options mean to their case.
State Sen. Ronald Kouchi and state Reps. Derek Kawakami, James Tokioka and Dee Morikawa were present to speak on the domestic violence laws they helped to strengthen. The laws increase penalties for restraining order violations and related domestic violence offenses.
County Council Chair Jay Furfaro, Vice Chair JoAnn Yukimura and members Tim Bynum, Dickie Chang, KipuKai Kuali‘i and Mel Rapozo were also present.
YWCA Kaua‘i Executive Director Renae Hamilton said the shelter offers 45 years of collective experience, and that their goal is to help victims remove themselves from an unsafe environment and begin the ‘ohana process of thinking about families and the future.
The “Who Can? You Can” program is the current outreach effort to get people to speak against violence and support change. Domestic violence is not in balance with the harmony of the island and its people, Hamilton added.
YWCA of Kaua‘i shelter co-directors Diane Wada and Kathy Freire said it is not always easy for someone to leave an abusive situation. They said if it is an emergency, call 911 and the responders will route them to the shelter if necessary. If someone has a question about their situation or wants to call for help in a non-emergency they should call the shelter’s 24-hour Crisis Line at 245-6362 or 245-4144.
Beth Tokioka spoke for Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. in reading a proclamation for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
KPD Chief Darryl Perry was on the Big Island for a conference but Assistant Chief Roy Asher was present with around 20 other KPD officers and civilian staff.
Some events for the month include a free Self-Defense Seminar, Oct. 8, noon to 3 p.m. at the War Memorial Convention Hall. The event is cosponsored by County of Kaua‘i Office of the Prosecuting Attorney and YWCA of Kaua‘i in collaboration with the Kalaheo Kajukenbo Self-Defense Institute. Pre-register with Lianne Parongao, 241-1745, or email@example.com.
The annual “Love is Respect” Candlelight Vigil will be held Oct. 19, from 5 to 7 p.m., at St. Michael and All Angel’s Church in Lihu‘e. Contact Diane or Amy at 245-8404.
Kaua‘i Community College is hosting The Clothesline Project. Their T-shirts are on display around campus throughout the month. KCC will host “Miss Representation,” an award-winning documentary on Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center.
The Watch for Silent Witness will be displayed around the island with life size cutouts of survivors and their stories at public places and events.
• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or by emailing tlaventure@ thegardenisland.com.