Over one hundred voices could be heard from a distance long before the bearers of those voices appeared, chanting , “No excuse for child abuse” in their attempt on Saturday, to put a stop to the various forms of abuse against children.
The procession, which began at the Pottersville Savannah and ended at the E.C Loblack bridge saw the young, old, and middle aged either joining in the march or looking from their doorways and windows with the occasional female on-looker adding her voice and raising her hands in solidarity.
Among the marchers, was social services minister, Gloria Shillingford, who explained to reporters, her reason for joining the match.
“I am a very proud person here this morning to be joining with the parents, other staff of the Ministry of social services, community services and gender affairs, and also the welfare division to say loud and clear to Dominica and to the world that there is no excuse for child abuse,” she said. “…And we are not taking hush money we need to protect our children they are our future, they are our present and they are our heritage …we are not taking any excuse for child abuse,” she declared.
Earlier this week, in an interview with DNO, Coordinator of The Child Abuse Prevention Unit, Gemma Azile-Lewis, said child sexual abuse is one of the most frequently reported cases of abuse among children in Dominica.
“From the point of the reported cases, children do suffer all the forms of abuse… but the form of abuse which is more highly reported is sexual abuse in our children and that includes sexual abuse of both boys and girls,” she said.
According to Azille-Lewis, the march on Saturday is part of the on-going battle against these types of abuse.
“Well today we are having a march against child abuse, child violence, denouncing violence against children… all the different forms of abuse. Sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, neglect and abandonment of our children and we are saying that it is time that we as a public, take a stand about it. It is our children, our priority and we need to protect them now,” she urged.
She said that society needed to intensify efforts protect our children against all different forms of abuse and “we are sending a message out to the abusers that we are not going to take these things lightly. It is time that they stop, whoever they are, stop abusing our children”.
Azille-Lewis had a strong message for those parents, who she said, still do not follow up on the reported cases. “And we are telling them that this is not the way; hush money is not the answer and we are saying that it is time that child abuse should stop in our country, in Dominica”.
Participants in the march included the Kiwanis Club, Operation Youth Quake, Ministry of Education, CARIMAN and CARICOM Youth Ambassadors.
Below are some photos of the march.