Campbell appeals to victims of domestic, gender-based violence to ‘end the silence’

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Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell (third left), at Sunday’s Church Service commemorating International Women’s Day with (from left): Pastor Gregory Johnson, Senior Pastor, Bethany Assembly Church, Mrs. Charlene Paul, Chair, Caribbean Institute for Women in Leadership (CIWIL) Bahamas, Mrs. Kathryn Campbell, Dr. Jacinta Higgs, Director, Department of Gender and Family Affairs, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development and Mrs. Coralee Adderley, Chair, National Women’s Advisory Council, and other members of the female non-governmental organizations in attendance. (BIS Photo/Matt Maura)

Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell, urged victims of domestic and/or Gender-based Violence to “break the silence” in order to stop the suffering, much of which he said is being done in solitude. Gender-based violence (GBV) includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse, threats, coercion, and economic or educational deprivation. Domestic Violence is an umbrella term that encompasses both Intimate Partner Violence and Family Violence. “Domestic and Gender-based Violence are two of those social ills that are of great concern to me as the Minister for Social Services and Urban Development,” Minister Campbell said. “They are social issues that some of us have come to accept in many corners to the point where they are no longer reported, but instead are tucked away under the carpet as is said, leaving people to suffer in silence. It is affecting productivity in the workplace, and it is (responsible for) some of the negativity and anti-social behaviour in our schools and communities while people continue to suffer in silence. It is time for us to break that silence.”

Minister Campbell said there are a number of measures than can be taken and have been undertaken by his Ministry and the Department of Gender and Family Affairs to address the issue of domestic and/or gender-based violence locally. “We have to address the perpetrators because it is not sufficient that we send them to prison because they will be released back into society at some point and so we have to address them and their mindset so that there will be sufficient remorse and recognition of their wrongdoing and then once they would have come out, there would be an adjustment in their behaviour,” Minister Campbell said. The Ministry and the Department of Gender and Family Affairs recently hosted two Train the Trainers Perpetrators Violence Intervention and Prevention Workshops that were attended by representatives from 40 government and non-governmental organizations, faith-based groups, civic organizations and schools. The government organizations included the Police, Defence Force, Department of Corrections, Customs Department, Public Hospitals Authority, Department of Public Health, Department of Social services, Immigration, Ministry of education, Department of Environmental Health Services, Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and the Ministry of Public Works.

The workshops were conducted by Mr. Tyrone Buckmire, the Chairman of the Caribbean Male Action Network (CariMan) and Board member of the MenEngage Global Alliance and Ms. Shakey Cornwall a member of the Grenada Multi-Sectoral Task Force to End Violence Against Women and Girls who has conducted training sessions for social workers, law enforcement and medical personnel on State responses to domestic violence and on the legal, policy and programmatic responses to Gender-based Violence. “We can do more than that though as we can prevent some of it happening if we prepare our young persons; prepare our young women to be sufficiently independent that they will not tolerate it as a social norm. We need to prepare our young men from the time they are boys, that they have a duty, a responsibility, to take care of our girls; to love and protect our girls. We need to support more programmes as they grow up that would cause them to have a greater appreciation for the need to co-exist. “God made a whole lot of things during creation after which he said: ‘This was good.’ And then he made man and he paused for awhile and afterwards he said: ‘It is not good.’ That is the first time he said it was not good. It was not good for the man to be alone and the response for man not being alone was making the woman. We have to, we must ensure that our young boys know that from the time we are breast feeding them and our girls need to know it is not love if he is hitting me.”

Addressing the Church Service commemorating the global observance of International Women’s Day (Sunday, March 8) held at Bethany Assembly, Churchill Subdivision, Soldier Road, Minister Campbell used the service as a platform to address a number of issues impacting women on the road to gender equity and equality. Minister Campbell said while both men and women can be victims of domestic and/or gender-based violence, statistics show that a larger proportion of females fall victim to the violence as opposed to men. All forms of violence, he acknowledged, are unacceptable. Sunday’s Church Service was attended by females representing a number of the more than 200 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are registered with the Department of Gender and Family Affairs, Min.of Social Services and Urban Development, and was one of several events commemorating International Women’s Day that Minister Campbell attended. The service was also attended by representatives of the National Women’s Advisory Council (N-WAC), and was a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development; its Department of Gender and Family Affairs, N-WAC, the Caribbean Institute for Women in Leadership (CIWIL), Women United and Zonta Bahamas.

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