Minister of Labour, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo??

Women – be wise about the choices you make, particularly when deciding on a life partner.

These words of caution came recently from Minister of Labour, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, while speaking at the Caribbean Launch of the United Nations Secretary General’s Campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women.?? It was held at the Hilton Barbados, Needhams Point, St. Michael.

??"I caution you about the choices you make.?? Self-actualisation is about making the life you want, not the one your partner provides.?? You have education, training and entrepreneurship opportunities to create that life.?? It may not be perfect, but you will control it.?? Take time to learn more about domestic violence, your risk and its implications for you.

"Take the time to learn more about your partner before making a commitment or sharing the creation of a child or other major decisions.?? Above all, learn about yourself- what you want and what you don’t want," she advised.

The Minister also expressed concern about the Caribbean’s definition of masculinity, stating that it appeared to be tied up in an enormous validation of?? violence, as well as with the notion of hyper-heterosexuality, multiple partners, and homophobia.?? "We hail the risk takers.?? There is a celebration of the ones who do not back down, the bad boy who will fight and display the scars as boasting rights.?? We ridicule the man who claims his loyalty and fidelity to one woman and, sometimes, we scourge the man who faithfully supports his child and even his ex-spouse in an attempt to ensure that his child is well cared for," she lamented.

Speaking specifically about domestic violence, Dr. Byer-Suckoo reiterated Government’s commitment to providing assistance to persons affected in this area, pointing out that there was a Domestic Violence Protection Order, a shelter for abused women, a crisis hotline and a domestic violence hotline, all working to end violence against women.

However, the Minister opined that the fight against abuse must involve the enactment of stronger laws.?? "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," she asserted.

The UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign was launched by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, in February 2008 and will run for seven years until 2015.?? It aims to adopt and enforce national laws to address and punish all forms of violence against women and girls; adopt and implement multi-sectoral national action plans; strengthen data collection on the prevalence of violence against women and girls; increase public awareness and social mobilisation; and address sexual violence in conflict. kmoore@barbados.gov.bb

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