Press Release:- Today, Wednesday November 25, Saint Lucia joins the rest of the world in the observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
As in previous years, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women will commence “16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence” which will conclude on December 10th, 2020 – International Human Rights Day.
Minister with responsibility for Gender Relations Hon. Dr. Gale Rigobert, is calling on all Saint Lucians to reflect on the theme for this year and play their part in putting an end to all forms of Gender Based Violence.
“I ask that you join me in pondering on the theme; “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!” and let us all take a stand against violence perpetrated against our women and girls as well as intimate partner violence and to be even more vigilant as we face the impacts of Covid-19,” Dr. Rigobert says.
According to the United Nations; “as countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified – in some countries, calls to helplines have increased five-fold.”
“Cognizant of this the Department of Gender Relations as well as the Government, with the support of external and local agencies, implemented a number of interventions to ensure that we cater to the financial, emotional and psycho-social needs of our women and girls. With the recent refurbishment and upgrading of the women support center and the EnGender Project, we have also created safe spaces for our women and girls to thrive and to make the necessary adjustments,” the Minister went on to say.
“This Government will very soon enact the Domestic Violence Bill which will offer greater protection for our women and girls,” the Minister promised as she urged everyone to play their part in creating a more gender sensitive and responsive Saint Lucia.
Spearheading the advocacy for the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women” and the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence” is the Department of Gender Relations.
According to the Director Ms. Janey Joseph, the world is pausing for the next sixteen days to shed light on the issues of gender based violence.
“This year in particular, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a rise in domestic violence and other acts of gender based violence around the world and Saint Lucia is no exception. And so at this time we want to ensure that our citizens are aware of the services that are available to them if they are victims of gender based violence,” Ms. Joseph noted.
The Director says that the Department of Gender Relations works closely with the Saint Lucia Crisis Center, the Family Court, the Department of Human Services and other non-governmental agencies in making services available to citizens.
There is also the 202 hotline for persons experiencing intimate partner violence and who may need a safe shelter and 203 for persons having difficulty coping with negative emotions and tragedy.
“I also want to thank the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) for assisting us with refurbishing the women’s support center so as to increase the number of available rooms for users of the service and we have also received support for the creation of a website which is going to serve as a training portal for all of the sectors that provide services to persons who are victims of gender based violence,” Ms. Joseph says.
She also pointed to the technical support from UNFPA and UN-Women for the GBV referral pathway and the EnGender Covid response which included among other things, income support for 75 women who are victims of domestic violence or who may have lost income due to the pandemic.
Under the project, psychological first aid training will be offered to first responders from December 1-5, 2020.
The Director would also like to remind the public that Gender Based Violence is not only about physical violence and sexual abuse but can refer to any act that causes harm to an individual. Gender Based Violence can be in the form of economic, emotional and psychological violence and abuse.
Saint Lucia Ms. Janey Joseph says, joins in the call by the United Nations to end Gender Based Violence and to focus on amplifying action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond and focus on prevention, and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls.
Headline photo courtesy Aliyah Jamous