(Castries, November 23, 2015) As women and concerned citizens around the world prepare to observe Orange Day on November 25 and 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, United and Strong Inc. lends its voice to the island-wide plea for action on this front. This appeal is made even more urgent with the recent increase in reports of rape and child molestation on the island.
Secretary to the Board of Directors, Jessica St Rose says, “The numbers are alarming and we as women should raise our voices more on the increase of rape on the island. Everyone should play a role and most importantly the police and justice system should do what is necessary to capture the criminals. We as a nation should rally and not be afraid to demand what must be done. We should not sit back and let this pass. There is support out there so women should not be afraid to come out and tell their stories. When we raise our voices more we can get criminals to face the full force of justice.” U&S Operation Manager D. Williams joins the call noting, “There is great concern relating to the inflation of rape and violence against women in Saint Lucia. Our men and boys need to be more tolerant and respectful of women. They need to realise that women deserve the right to their dignity without fear of discrimination. More focus needs to be applied to policing mechanisms where rights-violations are acknowledged, leading to protection and empowerment of marginalised groups, especially vulnerable women and young girls. Law enforcers are true custodians of human rights and so they too play a major role in combating this issue within our communities.”
The organisation calls on government to strengthen legal measures to penalise perpetrators of this violation, to amend the laws to ensure the punishment fits the crime and reform the justice system to ensure that swift action within due process is implemented.
United and Strong also calls on other civil society and faith based organisations to raise their voices in unison to demand action against all violations including rapes, incest and personal depression which has and continues to lead to suicide.
Executive Director Kenita Placide says, “It is unfortunate that the organisation needs to add its voice yet again to a call to end all forms of violence, violations, stigma and discrimination in our sweet Helen. Despite the horrific circumstance, we are thankful that women are empowered and brave enough to make these reports rights now. As part of an evolving society we must recognise that the rights and dignity of women is not a request.”
Placide further urges the community to play its very vital role in ensuring the full recognition of the human rights of all people. “We ask that mothers, fathers, god-parents, aunts, uncles and community members help by guiding young persons and helping to steer them away from crime and actions that hurt others.”
As a human rights organisation United and Strong has done its part to reduce violence, stigma and discrimination. A series of awareness exercises for law enforcement and civil society has been staged throughout the sub-region in the past two years to sensitise police and civil society to human rights related issues in our society and improve their responses. In addition, U&S continues to collaborate with civil society partners in Saint Lucia, the region and globally.
Through outreach at the United Nations United and Strong also engages state parties to press home the issue of Saint Lucia’s obligations under UN treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to reduce rights violations.
St Rose urges that November 25 be fully acknowledged, especially by women. “We as a nation should get together, to march take some form of action on that day. We call on all women to wear orange to bring attention to Orange Day.”