Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Vice President of the Inter-American Commission on Women, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner??

The issue of violence and abuse against women needs to be kept on the front- burner.

This was emphasised today by Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Vice President of the Inter-American Commission on Women (CIM), Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner.

She was delivering an address at a symposium to highlight International Day Against Violence Against Women and the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, which will run until Friday, December 10. It was held under the theme Structures of Violence: Defining the Intersections of Militarism and Violence against Women, at the Harcourt Lewis Training Centre, Belmont Road, St. Michael.

Senator Sandiford-Garner said: "I sincerely hope that the national focus on this issue will not end on December 10. This is too important an issue to be confined to 16 days of attention. I want to urge…those organisations whose mandate involves addressing violence and all other abuse and disrespect of women, to keep this issue alive."

In terms of the topic "Violence Against Women in Natural Disasters", the Parliamentary Secretary deemed it as timely. She pointed out that "in wake of the recent natural disasters that visited our shores and those of the wider region, it is important that the issue of disaster risk mitigation is assigned the attention it deserves from a gender perspective as some of the mitigation challenges that are presented can best be aligned to ???violence’ against women…

Persons attending the symposium.

"Natural hazards…take a disproportionate toll on women and this is not sufficiently recognized by those charged with the responsibility for post disaster recovery."

In demonstrating the possible effects that hazards can have on women and girls, the CIM Vice President pointed out that "the normally increased vector borne diseases can create rising demands on women as formal and informal health care providers [and] an uninformed state support can lead to reliance on women as social ???shock absorbers’."

The Senator further disclosed that the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence would also address "the more traditional concepts of gender violence".

"This, is with the hope that through increased awareness, this crime against humanity and infringement of basic human rights will subside as more individuals make a conscious effort to combat it," she maintained.

The Parliamentary Secretary stressed that every effort must be made to ensure that women enjoyed their fundamental freedoms.

"No one owns any woman, nor have they the right to determine her legitimate destiny…Neither should the state condone institutional violence against women through the criminalisation of the victim through the police and Courts," Senator Sandiford-Garner asserted.

The international campaign is being hosted by the Bureau of Gender Affairs, to increase awareness about the issue of domestic violence.??sharifa.medford@barbados.gov.bb

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