JIS News

Jamaica will join the rest of the world in observing International Day Against Violence Against Women tomorrow (Nov. 25).
Speaking with JIS News, Faith Webster, Acting Executive Director of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, said that Jamaica would mark the occasion through the staging of a programme of activities at Emancipation Park in Kingston.
“The initiative is being undertaken as part of the Bureau’s thrust to assist in sensitizing and educating the public in addition to raising awareness on the issue of violence against women,” Mrs. Webster noted.
Outlining the activities, she said, “we will be having a programme of events with the focus this year being on issues concerning domestic violence and sexual abuse. The guest speaker at the opening ceremony will be Dr. Paul Robertson, Minister of Development. This year we decided specifically to target students in high schools and the youth. Of course it is still open to the public because we want everybody to be sensitized about the issue.”
A total of 80 schools from across the island have been invited to participate in the various activities that will be a part of tomorrow’s event at Emancipation Park. There will be a variety of sessions including a presentation from the HIV/AIDS National Committee on Risky Behaviour. Students will also get a chance to voice their concerns on violence and other issues affecting them during an open forum.
“Persons can come prepared for a very informative day through educational films developed by the Bureau on domestic violence and sexual abuse, dramatic performances as well as entertainment by several groups and booth displays,” commented Mrs. Webster.
A panel discussion will highlight human trafficking, which has become an issue of main concern especially as this relates to violence against women and children and the recent findings, which put Jamaica on a tier three list by the United States Government. The Bureau of Women’s Affairs hopes that out of these discussions, women would become more aware and the knowledge garnered would assist them in protecting themselves.
The International Day Against Violence Against Women emerged from the story of the four Mirabal sisters, who grew up in a city in the Dominican Republic during the era of the dictator Rafael Trujillo. Three of them – Minerva, Patria, and Maria Teresa – were brutally murdered by the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic in 1960 for their involvement in efforts to overthrow the fascist government.
According to Mrs. Webster, “in 1981 Latin American and Caribbean nations protested the killing of the sisters and proposed that a day be set apart for women, who had violence meted out against them”. On December 17, 1999, the United Nations General Assembly designated November 25 as the annual date for the International Day Against Violence Against Women in commemoration of the sisters.
The day was set aside for women groups and activists to look at the issues concerning sexual violence and sexual abuse in their own countries. Additionally, the day affords activists the opportunity to conceptualize strategies that can be implemented in an attempt to address the prevailing issues.