Men’s Health Groups from polyclinics across Barbados, came together with the Barbados Professional Women’s (BPW) Club yesterday, to re-launch and re-commit to raising awareness about violence perpetrated against women.

The discussion and rally was held at the Bagnall’s Point Gallery, Pelican Village, St. Michael and was well attended by both sexes.

While delivering remarks, Health Minister, Donville Inniss, applauded the efforts so far and requested that the message be taken into the community.?? He also commended men for actively taking part in the campaign to urge their counterparts to speak out about all forms of violence perpetrated against women.

"Usually when you hear about domestic violence it is women battling for women.?? Men are usually the ones out there who are being bastardised and villified as the culprits and the ones who inflict such grievous bodily harm and mental abuse.?? So, it is really heartwarming to know that today, Barbados can be part of a movement that recognises the importance of men talking with men about the issue of domestic violence.?? Go to young men wherever they are, they are not hostile, they are willing to listen to you and willing to engage you in some of the most constructive discussion," he said.??

Minister Inniss also charged those involved in the cause to take into consideration changing gender roles and the pressures this could create, when seeking to address domestic violence.

"I meet many men in this society who are not capable of dealing with the reality that women earn more than they are earning, who feel that they cannot keep up with the success of women and, therefore, feel that they are somewhat, ???a boy in the yard’.?? Sometimes it’s the women who may make the men feel that way and sometimes the men react [in] a certain way because they feel that they do not have the earning capacity and the power that comes with it," Minister Inniss surmised.

He put on record his pleasure that there was now a forum where persons, particularly men, could discuss domestic violence.

"Domestic abuse and violence tends to rear its ugly head particularly when the victim feels as though they have no recourse, no place to go for comfort, for protection, for some sense of solitude, and for counselling for the person who is inflicting the abuse upon them.?? Barbados is indeed a society that often times likes to keep things like this rather quiet … but the debate must continue," the Health Minister maintained.

While pledging Government’s support to the NGOs and other groups, Minister Inniss commended Senior Health Sister of the Black Rock Polyclinic, Anne Murrell, for her pioneering work with the Men’s Health Groups in the polyclinics.

Also taking part in the discussion on the importance of engaging men as partners and agents of change were:?? Senior Superintendant of the Royal Barbados Police Force, Erwin Greaves; President of the Winston Scott Polyclinic’s Men’s Health Group, Wayne Greaves; University of the West Indies Campus Security Advisor, Oral Reid; President of the Young Women’s Christian Association, Marilyn Rice-Bowen; BPW Youth member, Marrianne Burnham; and, Woman Inc. (Jamaica) Representative, Joyce Hewitt.

In 2008, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, launched the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign.?? This campaign will run until 2015, with the objective of preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls, worldwide.?? Through UNIFEM Barbados, a Consultation on the UN Secretary General’s Campaign was held in St. Lucia from October 19 to 20, last year.??

One of the outcomes was the need to engage men as partners and agents of change.?? The BPW’s Club of Barbados which was part of that consultation welcomed the Ministry of Health’s Men’s Health programme as partners in this world-wide initiative.??

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