The theme for the International Women’s Day 2017 was “Be Bold for Change.” International Women’s Day is a reminder of the fight for gender equity; the end to gender-based violence. It is amazing that as more opportunities have been provided and more women take advantage of the opportunities provided, there appears to be growing levels of violence against women, children and vulnerable groups.
In December 2016, the Leve Dominica Movement, a movement I fully endorse, in keeping with the Life in Leggings Movement from Barbados launched a campaign encouraging women to share their experiences of gender-based violence. The Life in Leggings Movement has taken a life of its own with similar movements started across the Caribbean. The response in Dominica was overwhelming; so many women shared their stories, with the majority being sexual violence and abuse from childhood. The majority shared under the cover of anonymity; however, a few identified themselves. The stories revealed that this scourge affects every layer of society from the most affluent to the poorest homes. Some of the abuse was continuous over an extended period while some were one-time events. There were a few common threads with one being the impact on those affected: a sense of shame and self-blame, which played a critical role in keeping those impacted silent.
An article in theguardian.com titled, “’Tambourine Army’ hits back against sexual violence in Jamaica,” dated March 10, 2017, opines the Caribbean has among the highest rate so sexual assault in the world and cites data from the United Nations in 2015, which revealed that one in three women have experienced sexual or physical violence at least once in their lives. It is further estimated that 14-38% of women have experienced intimate partner violence at least once. UNICEF estimates that 20 – 45% of children in the eastern Caribbean have been sexually abused. The guardian reports that in the past few months at least 8 women were killed by domestic partners and between 2005 – 2015, 300 women were murdered by domestic partners in Trinidad. In Dominica, 2017 opened with a brutal murder of a young lady and we have had brutal incidents of domestic violence in recent times.
This theme, “Be Bold for Change,” is demanding of us action. It is demanding that we stop sidestepping around the issues of violence against children, women, men and the elderly. It also demands we take a broader view of the issues of domestic violence… to conduct in-depth research to uncover the ugly truths and address them head-on. It demands we take the road less travelled, to focus attention on men on men violence, to ascertain its impact on gender based violence, and act. It begs us to do more than march, to do more than speak…we need to act. We need to listen and believe our children and those impacted. We must call out the perpetrators and seek and provide justice for those affected. We must provide counselling and safe places of refuge. We must respect the right of those affected to speak out when they are ready and provide the support needed. We must prosecute those who obstruct justice.
I have found myself lately looking deeply into faces of young men, who have been convicted of serious crime or who appear to be social deviants. I think that these were once adorable babies and delightful children, and ask myself a few questions, including:
• How did they get to that place?
• Were there any signs?
• Were these signs missed?
• What actions were taken, when the signs surfaced?
• Who are their parents?
• How were they loved?
• How were they disciplined?
• How would I react if one of these men were my son?
I know my interest is heightened because I am the mother of a young son; a son I want to be and give his best and want only the best of life for him. I want my son to grow up to fulfill God’s purpose for his life. I want him to be kind, respectful, disciplined, empathetic, focused and gentle, especially with little girls and the elderly. I want him to be a boy and man of integrity, candid, honest and forthright. I want him to respect authority even while he has the right to question it. I want him to be confident, secure within himself and of himself. I want him to have a positive attitude to himself, others, life and his work. I want him to give more and not settle for less. I want him to be happy, peaceful, joyful and content. This is a constant work in progress and the hardest job I have ever had and will ever be called upon to perform. It’s not a job, I can relax and say, “I have done well,” for a long, long time! I pray for my son and the people who cross his path constantly, everyday all through the day. I figure, I must start at home with my son if I want the world to be a better place for girls, children and women, considering men are the highest percentage of perpetrators of violence.
I have my challenges nurturing this young boy who I want to be a good man. Every time, I lose my patience, and I shout at him or give him a few slaps, I question myself: what lessons am I teaching him? Was that the best way to respond? Is this how I want him to respond when he is unhappy about an outcome? By hitting him, am I sending a mixed message: that in some circumstances physical punishment is acceptable? I may be overthinking, but from the day one, I told myself and told my little son, my best gift from God, that he would be well loved and not spoilt. I speak to him constantly, I repeat myself like a broken record and I know that, while it may seem he is not hearing, he is listening! So often, he uses my arguments against me! So, I keep on loving, speaking, listening, explaining and engaging him so that he become a young man of purpose, on purpose, making his world and the world a better, kinder, gentler, more peaceful place, where children, women, men and the elderly are safe.
Be Bold for Change…Let the Change We Want, Begin with Us!
May the Lord continue to Bless, Keep and Hold Us in the Palm of His Hands, until We Meet Again! Love and Blessings Aplenty!
I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 767 449 9649.
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Thank you Vali. Great article.
“Be Bold for Change…Let the Change We Want, Begin with Us!”
Well said, well said, Valda, well said. We urgently need change in Dominica’s political climate, and this is the this corrupt Labour government led by this inept PM Skerrit.
Among the religious, work attitude, good behaviour called for, political change for these to happen are essential and imperative. We need leaders who can manage change and development process and this rotten labour government led by this inept Skerrit have stained and killed our Dominica. Just like bad parents in a our, we have bad leaders in Dominica`s government.
Just like good parents discipline and guide their children, we need good,, discipline political parents to guide us Dominicans. Roosevelt Skerrit is immature, small headed, and not fit, has never been fit to be Prime Minister. He is dangerous and ignorant of the good processes of good government. Those who continue to blindly support and follow him are mischievous in their behaviour.