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Nov 29, 2007

Men wanted for march against domestic violence

Story PictureThe period between Garifuna Settlement Day and Christmas is a hectic one in Belize as our thoughts turn to celebration, gift giving, and, not insignificantly, finding the funds to pay for all that fun. But increasingly the days of late November and early December are being devoted to a pair of issues that represent a serious threat to Belize: the epidemics of AIDS and domestic violence. As part of its sixteen days of activism campaign the Women’s Department is asking us to listen…and act.

Icilda Humes, Ag. Director, Women’s Department
“In the past we used to have more of a candlelight vigil where we would hold our candles and march in silence and in solidarity of all the women who have died at the hands of domestic violence and also in recognition of the men and women who continue to live with domestic violence on a daily basis.”

Kendra Griffith, Reporting
According to Acting Director of the Women’s Department, Icilda Humes, this Friday’s march in commemoration of World AIDS Day and International Day to Elimination Violence against Women will be different.

Icilda Humes
“We don’t want to parade and be silent anymore. We want to march and be very vocal about what is happening. So we are taking a different spin on it. We’ll be having the opening ceremonies starting at three-thirty at the Yabra Green basketball court and that will be followed by the march through the streets and will end at the Memorial Park.”

This year they are asking some very special guests to be a part of the activities: men … but not just any man.

Icilda Humes
“Real men … and by real men we mean men who don’t abuse women. So all you real men out there, you are invited to be a part of this activity tomorrow and the real men who will be participating in the march will be able to take home with them a T-Shirt. And that is the real men’s t-shirt. And it says I am a real man because I don’t abuse women.”

“We need more than the women’s voices to stand out and speak out against domestic violence. Men have a crucial role to play in speaking to their friends, in speaking to their colleagues, their brothers, their fathers, their sons, telling them that they don’t appreciate domestic violence. They don’t respect it and they certainly have a zero tolerance for it.”

Domestic violence is a complex issue, but experts believed that the problem has some of its roots in the way boys and girls are socialised while growing up.

Icilda Humes
“It’s more acceptable for girls to speak about it. But boys are supposed to me a man, they are supposed to be hard and so real men, as some people would say, don’t speak out about their problems, don’t talk about their emotions and they things that are going wrong in their lives and so it’s a matter of us changing the way we are nurturing out children.”

Although women are their speciality, the department also handles cases in which men are the victims. One hundred and ten men filed abuse complaints in 2006. In May, the Women’s Department published a Men’s Handbook on Domestic Violence … and next week the Belize Family Life Association will be holding its second Men’s forum: Male Talk, which they hope will result in the formation of a male agency.

Icilda Humes
“A Men Against Violence Committee was established in 2005, but for various reasons it’s been dormant for some time now and so we have asked the organisers of the activity to focus a bit on the need for that committee to be reactivated and for the outcome of that forum to be that there will be a commitment by at least a handful of men to be a part of that committee.”

Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

To be a part of the march and earn your t-shirt, be at the Yabra Green basketball court Friday by three-thirty.

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