Female Victims of Sexual Violence Urged to come Forward


Executive Director of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Dr. Glenda Simms, has called on female victims of sexual violence to come forward and admit that they have been wronged.
She noted that until more “high profile Jamaican women” stood up and admitted that they have been victims of violence, the problem would never be dealt with effectively. “When we take a stance, we will be saying to women, who have been victims and who are less fortunate and more marginalized, that we are in this together”, Dr Simms pointed out.
She was addressing a public forum on ‘Sexual violence and the spread of HIV/AIDS’, at the Wexford Court Hotel in Montego Bay on November 25. The discussion session was held as part of activities to mark International Day Against Violence Against Women. Activities were carried out island-wide under the theme, ‘Confronting the crisis: Women, girls and HIV/AIDS’.
Dr. Simms in her presentation, noted the disparity in the reporting of sexual violence against women in the inner cities as opposed to those in more affluent communities, especially those instances that lead to the death of the victim.
She further opined that the lives of the majority of Jamaican women were not considered newsworthy and the violence meted out to them was not really recorded.
“This type of sexual and other violence actually set us up for vulnerability to HIV/AIDS”, she stated, adding that matters such as poverty, violence and HIV/AIDS had become women’s issues.
“Each one of us as women, has a responsibility; stop pretending that its not happening, and some of us who are having the experiences, must put a face on the problem. The sisterhood will only work when we break down the cultural, social and ideological barriers between women”, Dr. Simms stressed.
Meanwhile, Ruth Jankee of the National AIDS Committee, noted that 30 million people have died of AIDS worldwide over the last 20 years and 40 million were infected with the disease.
She pointed out that about half of all persons living with HIV were female and that women were more likely than men to contract the virus from a single act of unprotected sex. “This is a call to action for women and men to recognize the crisis situation that we are in, the grave impact this epidemic is having and will continue to have on our families, communities and nation as a whole”, she stated.
Miss Jankee further pointed out that, “economically and socially, HIV/AIDS will continue to destroy the very fabric of our lives if we don’t all do something to both reduce the spread of the virus and create a supportive environment for those infected and affected”.

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