Victims of gender based violence must be encouraged to speak out, while perpetrators of such violence should be urged to seek help.
Minister with responsibility for Gender Relations, Doctor Gale Rigobert, made the remarks in a message to mark International Women’s Day which is being observed today.
She said that the theme selected for this year’s observance ‘Be Bold For Change’ challenges each individual to make the changes that are necessary for creating a better, safer and more secure environment that will enable women and girls to reach their full potential as positive change agents.
“We must “Be Bold For Change” and continue to educate our youth about positive relationships, so that they can break the cycle of violence, even when they have been subjected to witnessing such violence in their formative years,” Rigobert declared.
She urged citizens to be “Be Bold For Change” and challenge any customs and practices that perpetuate the violence.
“We must review and strengthen legislation and take all the necessary actions to build on past efforts to increase the reach of victim services because we cannot afford to lose any more lives,” Rigobert said.
The minister observed that despite the significant amount of resources that is spent annually on providing social support services to victims and survivors and the rehabilitation of perpetrators, the reports of such cases continue to reach the various agencies, and sadly sometimes the outcomes are fatal.
She spoke against the backdrop of the murder on Sunday of Ciceron resident, Sophia Edwards, 31, who was stabbed to death, allegedly following an altercation with her common law husband.
According to Rigobert, gender-based violence is one hindrance to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
She noted that violence against women and children continues to be a major national issue.
Rigobert stated that the government of Saint Lucia remains committed to closing gender parity gaps and will keep women’s and gender issues on the top of its development agenda.
“We must be “Bold For change” and quantify the tremendous contribution of women’s unpaid work to the economy, implement policies and legislation that challenge stereotypes and discrimination. We must also educate our boys and encourage men to share the burden of care that is usually seen as the responsibility of women,” she said.