Message By The Honorable Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, Minister Of Youth Family And Sports, To Mark International Day Against Violence Against Women And Sixteen Days Of Activism

Fellow Barbadians, it is my pleasure to address you today on the occasion of International Day against Violence against Women as well as at the start of another series of Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence.

Violence against women remains a vexing reality which affects 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.

The facts about gender-based violence speak clearly to the pain and suffering experienced daily by women which sometimes results in disability and death. Facts also speak to the pain and disorientation of children who live in these violent circumstances. There is the distinct possibility that these children could eventually gravitate to becoming victims or perpetrators as a result of observing this behavior.

My Ministry continues to be concerned about this kind of violence and its impact on the family and the wider society, and through the Bureau of Gender Affairs, is in the forefront of initiating measures to ascertain the prevalence and characteristics of this violence in Barbados.

We see this act of gender-based violence as a scourge on human dignity.

I want to laud the work of the NGOs, particularly the Business and Professional Women’s Club, and more recently the SAVE Foundation whose specific focus has been in this area and who have worked alongside government to provide public education, a shelter for victims, counseling and a support group to survivors of gender-based violence.

Among the many International interventions which have been developed to respond to this insidious act is the "Sixteen Days of Activism", which started in 1991, and runs from November 25th to December 10th in order to link the International Day against Violence, November 25,?? with International Human Rights Day, December 10. The message being sent is that women’s rights are human rights and that violence against women is a violation of their human rights.

This year the theme is Commit, Act, Demand: We Can End Violence Against Women. In the next sixteen days a variety of activities will be staged in Barbados, by a number of organizations, to focus on this issue of violence. I want to encourage you, the public, to attend as many of these activities as possible. Learn as much as you can, about the nature of gender-based violence, so that you can act responsibly.

I urge you not to remain silent, but to speak out and condemn violence against women.?? 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. Let us work together to stop the violence.

Author: Ministry of Youth, Family and Sports

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