Campaign urges end to violence against women

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: Regional countries are being urged to recognize the linkage between socio-economic development and domestic abuse, as the Caribbean launched a campaign on Monday to end violence against women.

Barbados Minister of Labour, Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo, told delegates at the United Nations sponsored conference that for too many years, the effort to end violence against women has been a “rather lonely one led largely by the women of the world and a few men, who understood the effect and impact of domestic violence on our societies”.

Dr. Byer-Suckoo said that as far back as 1928, women throughout the world have been working assiduously to educate the global population and to eradicate all forms of gender-based violence.

She said while there have been some successes in the struggle it was also important to ensure that the entire community is involved in eradicating violence and “not to turn a blind eye or a deaf ear at domestic violence.

“Teach our children to talk of these things, and teach our adults to respond with compassion. We are outraged by child sexual abuse; in the same way we must be outraged by all forms of violence, including domestic violence.

“Let us not comfort ourselves that it is not happening to us, or that no one knows about it. Through public education at all ages, we can strengthen accountability in our community,” said Byer-Suckoo.

As a legislator, Byer-Suckoo said she understands the importance of law.

“This fight must involve stronger laws which seem to be taking too long to be become reality. Lawmakers must be held accountable. This particular area, and not just the management of the economy, must be an issue which can make or break political campaigns.

“Governments should be judged by how they treat these issues. Especially in this economic recession when we are told that much of our economic fortune is out of our control. These laws which make our society safer are definitely within our control,” said Byer-Suckoo.

The labour minister said that it is also important to make the linkage between domestic violence and the social and economic cost to the all stakeholders.

Byer-Suckoo also urged society not to ridicule men who shows affection for their families, noting that masculinity appears to be tied up with the notion of hyper-heterosexuality, multiple partners and homophobia.

“This construction of masculinities causes an increased male vulnerability and provides the opportunity to deliver violence, and to receive violence. This masculinity is sometimes fuelled by a further notion of a guaranteed male dominance, supported by a feminine subordination that belies the state’s investment in educating all of its citizens, boys and girls, men and women from birth until death…

“In today’s world, we might want to address the faith-based groups and seek help in redefining the multiple roles that men and women must adopt and adapt in order to deal with the global and local changes,” said Byer-Suckoo.

In his message to the conference, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the UNiTE Campaign to End Violence Against Women must involve everyone, from schools and street markets to parliament and the courts of justice.

“No country is immune from gender-based violence, which is abhorrent in its own right, and can prevent girls from getting an education and women from earning a living. Sadly, it is clear that women in the Caribbean region suffer high levels of such violence,” said Ban, adding that recent statistics indicate that one in every three women will experience violence in a personal relationship in her lifetime.

He said prosecutions and convictions remain very low.

“The UNiTE Campaign can build on the work that has already been done by the UN, national governments and others to raise awareness, build partnerships and have a greater impact on prevention, protection, justice and services for the victims of gender-based violence,” said Ban.

“Violence against women must not be tolerated, in any form, in any context, in any circumstance, by any political leader or by any government. There can be no exceptions, no excuses and no delay.”

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