WLI condemns violence against women

All Woman

'A scourge on Jamaica', that's how child sexual abuse and violence against women have been described by the Women's Leadership Initiative (WLI) as they continue their fight to protect Jamaica's children and women.

The WLI hosted the opening ceremony of its annual child sexual abuse prevention training programme on April 22 for academic staff of Central Branch Primary School. The programme teaches teachers and caregivers how to prevent, detect and treat with child sexual abuse. To date, over 150 people have been trained.

Addressing recent reports in Jamaica of the increased incidents of violence against women, Renee Menzies McCallum, chair of the WLI, said, “The executive and members of the WLI join with all right-thinking Jamaicans in condemning the violence against women in Jamaica that is now approaching epidemic proportions. This is now a societal crisis and the authorities need to acknowledge the seriousness of the crimes being committed against women and move urgently to prevent them and to punish the perpetrators, where they do occur.”

She said that as an organisation focused on supporting and empowering women, the WLI, a special committee of United Way of Jamaica, notes that our women have in recent years been making significant gains in a range of areas — professionally and politically — yet many continue to be disrespected, unappreciated and violated by men, sometimes by one related or acquainted with them, at other times by strangers.

“Today, gender-based violence is a very big issue in Jamaica and we all need to wake up and admit this fact and work together to find the solutions. As a society we must formally educate our boys before they become men that violence against women is unacceptable,” she said.

Noting that a large percentage of women who are the victims of domestic violence do not report it because of the shame and stigma associated with it, or for fear of reprisal from the men involved, the WLI chair said, “We are now seeing an alarming incidence of women who do not even get the option to complain because their lives are taken by unknown predators. Jamaica, it is time to take a stand against rape, incest, domestic violence, sexual harassment, human trafficking — all of the atrocities being visited on women in Jamaica on a daily basis. We must raise all our voices in condemning violence against women and collaborate on solutions that involve our households, schools, and churches.

Chorvelle Johnson Cunningham, chair of United Way of Jamaica, and guest speaker at the opening ceremony of the training session, said, “We need to be our brothers' and sisters' keepers and look out for each other. As a mom, a woman CEO, a chair, a sister, friend and acquaintance, the pain that is felt each time something happens to another woman is unbearable and incomprehensible. There is a lot that goes unreported. We need to encourage our women to seek help and we need to hold their hands through this process.”




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