Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo (FP)????

Barbadians are being urged not to remain silent, but to speak out and condemn violence against women.

This strong message has come from Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, as Barbados prepares to join the world to observe November 25 as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence.

"I also want to encourage men to challenge other men to stop abusing women and to change the norms that encourage this violence. Let us pledge to work together to raise awareness that violence against women is unacceptable and abhorred," Dr. Byer Suckoo said.

Describing gender-based violence as a scourge on human dignity, she pointed out that her Ministry was concerned about it and its impact on the family and wider society. As a result, she continued, the Bureau of Gender Affairs was in the forefront of initiating measures to ascertain the prevalence and characteristics of violence in Barbados.

She stressed that hostility against women was a vexing reality, which affected all sections of society, regardless of age, race, wealth or geography. "This violence is not just an individual and personal issue, but affects economic development through loss of time from work by the abused person, as well as through the sickness benefit costs to national insurance schemes.

"It is a public health crisis; since, very often, medical personnel and resources which should be used for chronic diseases and other illnesses, must be diverted to treat injured persons.?? This violence also constitutes an obstacle to equality, development and peace, since violent acts which are perpetuated in the home spill over into the community at large and contribute to wider societal violence," Minister Byer Suckoo asserted.

According to her, women were not the only ones who experienced pain and suffering because of gender-based aggression, but also children who lived in those unpleasant circumstances. She noted that there was the distinct possibility that those children could eventually gravitate towards becoming victims or perpetrators as a result of observing this behaviour.

This year’s theme is "Commit, Act, Demand: We Can End Violence Against Women" and a number of activities are being staged by the Bureau of Gender Affairs and its partners to focus on the issue.

The Minister has, therefore, called on the public to attend the events and learn as much as they can about the nature of violence, so they can act responsibly. She also commended those non-governmental organisations that work alongside government.

The activities will end on December 10, International Human Rights Day, and Dr. Byer Suckoo opined that the message being sent is that "women’s rights are human rights and that violence against women is a violation of their human rights".

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