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Nov 23, 2017

Feel the Power: 16 Days of Activism Off to Enlightening Start

Over the next two weeks, a number of anti-violence presentations at schools, as well as health talks and an exhibition by the Women’s Department, will take place as part of the 2017 calendar of events to commemorate the Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence. Today, the activities were officially launched with a ceremony that saw women survivors share their gripping violent experiences, in the hope that others who are living in silence will speak out against abuse. News Five’s Duane Moody files this report.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Belize once again joins the world in the annual Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence under the theme, “Leave No One Behind – End Violence Against Women and Girls.” An official launch was held this afternoon at the Radisson.  Various stakeholders, including women and men, witnessed the testimonials from three survivors, whose very real stories resonated with many who have been and still remain victims of violence at the hands of their partners.

 

Ann-Marie Williams

Ann-Marie Williams, Executive Director, National Women’s Commission

“We have to continue to do it as long as men continue to violate women and girls. If there were no violations, we don’t have to do it because this sixteen days ramp up the activities that we’ve been doing all year round.”

 

The National Women’s Commission in collaboration with the Special Envoy for Women and Children hosted the launch which also showcased the artwork of students from Ladyville Tech, who captured the concept of gender-based violence. It brings into sharp focus the recent cases of cadet boys in Placencia, who were photographed nude by officers while on camp and the allegation of rape at the Independence Police Station by two females from Punta Gorda. Kim Simplis Barrow says that the work continues outside of the sixteen days acknowledged during this time.

 

Kim Simplis Barrow

Kim Simplis Barrow, Special Envoy for Women and Children

“We keep trying to engage the community and to create awareness that this doesn’t only happen only during the sixteen days. We have to continue shedding light on gender based violence. So for us this is symbolic. It is a time to really focus and look at it in a way that we try to bring people together to give their testimonies and so forth. But the truth is that we do advocate all year round.”

 

But are there interventions to target the root causes behind these acts of violence by the perpetrators—men or women alike?

 

Kim Simplis Barrow

“We are getting more and more people to speak about it. I think more and more people are feeling confident to come out and talk about it and that’s what we need. We need victims of violence to start with me too and to really…I think that is an effective way to get more and more people to say it is not only me, it is not only my shame; it is a lot of people’s shame. I think that is one of the things that has been stifling us for so long.”

 

Reporter

“If we agree though that men are the problem, then shouldn’t you all focus instead your healing instead of focus on the victims who are the symptoms of the sickness that apparently men have? Shouldn’t you all then try to heal the men?”

 

Ann-Marie Williams

“This is why we do programs at all levels to socialize children from early because it has to do with how we raise our children; the early socialization where we raised boys differently from girls. And so it is attacking it from all levels. Gender equality doesn’t mean only men and women, but women have to be empowered because they have been left behind. So it is a leveling of the playing field while attacking the problem.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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