UNITE! End violence against women

THERE is a stronger push for dealing with gender-based violence (GBV) this year and in the future, as Jamaica joins the rest of the world in observing 16 days of activism against GBV, an annual international campaign that kicked off Friday, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVAW), and runs until December 10, Human Rights Day.

IDEVAW is dedicated to shining light on the issues women and girls face due to violence and abuse, and the Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) and Eve for Life have been working to help survivors of abuse. JASL Policy and Advocacy Officer Patrick Lalor told All Woman, ahead of a silent protest Friday in Half-Way-Tree in recognition of IDEVAW, that while there are mostly women from low socioeconomic backgrounds coming forward about the issue of domestic abuse, "it is happening right across the spectrum".

"Domestic abuse, violence against women, intimate partner violence, are things that are not readily talked about so even when you find an older woman coming forward now, she is coming forward about something that happened a long time ago when she was a young girl and didn't talk about, or knew anyone she could talk to, or where to get support," he explained.

"You may find that people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are coming forward more, but in our work we have found that it goes right across the spectrum — so you have professional women, employed, who are in situations like these. Especially when they are women of power in the workspace, they tend to prefer to keep this down because it is almost showing up as weakness in a strong woman," he said.

Advocates stage a silent protest in recognition of IDEVAW at the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre Friday. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

He said with JASL's series of activities for advocacy this year, more men have been involved to spread awareness.

"There is an effort to have more men participating in the activities because we believe that the work around violence against women has too frequently focused on women only and the reality is, if the perpetrators are not targeted then that may be one of the reasons we are not seeing much progress," he said.

Lalor stressed that boys, especially, need to be more aware of the issue.

"Say for example in schools we allow boys to treat girls anyhow, and nobody talks to them about it or shows them what is the right way, then we will continue to have generations of men treating women the same way," he said.

"The inclusion of boys helps them to understand why this is problematic, why is it a violation of the person's human rights. Getting them to understand is one of the key focus areas that we think can be an effective strategy."

BRITTNY HUTCHINSON

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