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Nov 24, 2011

Act Now and End Gender Based Violence

Icilda Humes

The international observance of the annual Sixteen Days of Activism to End Gender Based Violence starts this Friday. Locally, several activities are planned that seek to educate the public about different forms of gender-based violence while promoting steps to stop them. The campaign is being launched on November twenty-fifth, which is also the International Day to End Violence Against Women. The activities run through to World AIDS Day on December first and end on December tenth, the International Human Rights Day. In Belize the Sixteen Days of Activism will be observed under the theme “Act Now: End Gender Based Violence”. According to the Director of the Women’s Department, Icilda Humes, the theme is a call to action for those for those who have been inactive to take a stand. She spoke to News Five today about key events being planned for the next sixteen days.

Icilda Humes, Director, Women’s Department

“What we did this year is we did the self reflection, we recognize that we’ve been talking about gender based violence for so many years and people don’t really know what it is. They don’t understand what it constitutes and so because of that we decided to have an academic conference, strictly on gender violence and all its forms. So this is the first time that something of this level is taking place. It’s a national event, it’s a two day event and it takes place this Monday and Tuesday at the Bliss Center for Performing Arts. It’s an open event. There’s no admission fee, there’s no need to pre-register, you just need to show up.  We really want to encourage people to come out and learn about sexual harassment, which we think is a form of gender based violence that people don’t know as much about. We’ll have presentations on child sexual abuse, trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of girls, presentations on domestic violence, presentations on the role of the church in ending gender based violence, the role of men in ending gender based violence, the link between gender based violence and HIV/AIDS, sexual reproductive health and gender based violence then we also have a presentation on sexual violence itself. And so it really is an academic event and we think that everyone can get something out of it. So like I said it’s open admission, anyone can come you’re welcome to do so Monday and Tuesday. We start sixteen days of activism tomorrow with our official opening ceremonies and march and this year we’re moving the event to the Lake Independence area. We felt it was very important for us to engage a different community this year around. So we’re having the official opening ceremonies on the basketball court behind the complex building, which is right in front of the education office. The Ministry of Health will be doing free HIV testing and counseling throughout the day so people can take full advantage of that.”

Humes says that T-shirts will be given to both male and female participants in Friday’s parade. Presentations on Monday and Tuesday will be done in one-hour slots starting from eight-fifteen and at ending at three-fifteen on both days of the conference. And as part of the activities, the National Commission for Families and Children is organizing a special church service to be held at nine-thirty on Sunday morning.

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