The Department of Gender Affairs will participate in over two weeks of activism against gender-based violence, as the annual 16-day Campaign gets underway from November 25th to December 10th, 2020.
This year’s 16-Day Campaign will be observed under the theme: Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect! and will highlight the need for the elimination of violence against men, women and children. In giving the rationale for the Observance, Mrs. Shinnel Charles indicated that “All citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis must be aware of the relationship between family violence, violence against vulnerable persons and groups; the imbalance of power within family relationships, and the increase in societal violence. Therefore, women, men, boys and girls must work together to find non-violent ways to resolve interpersonal conflict in an effort to advance human rights and end gender-based violence”.
She noted that the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in persons being confined to their homes for long periods, has led to increases in domestic violence cases in many countries, including St. Kitts-Nevis. Quoting statistics from the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force- Special Victims Unit, Mrs. Charles said, “In 2018 there were reported one hundred and twenty (120) cases of domestic violence…In 2019, eighty-seven (87) cases of domestic violence were reported… During the peak of the COVID-19 Pandemic from January- June 2020, one hundred and six cases (106) were reported during that 6 months period, which indicates that the pandemic has resulted in an increase in cases”. She confirmed that women are the victims in the majority of cases.
As it seeks to raise awareness about this issue, the Department of Gender Affairs has organized several activities over the next few weeks. On Wednesday, November 25th, there will be a Statement by the Honourable Minister Eugene Hamilton and a Panel Discussion on SKNIS’ ‘Working for You’ programme- addressing the topic ‘The Effects of Domestic Violence on The Vulnerable Population’, and the debate of the Model Sexual Harassment Bill by the St. Kitts Youth Parliament Association.
On Friday, November 27th, persons in Independence Square will be able to view the Display of Silent Witnesses (figurines of deceased victims of domestic violence) and sign the Domestic Violence Pledge Board, to indicate their support in the fight against this social ill, and on November 30th, a presentation of partial scholarships will be made to two survivors of domestic violence who are now attending tertiary institutions.
The Department will collaborate with the Nevis Department of Gender Affairs on December 4th to host ‘Wear Orange Day’ (which encourages the public to wear orange, the awareness colour of the 16-day Campaign) as well as Nevis’ Display of Silent Witnesses and Domestic Violence Pledge Board.
A second ‘Working for You’ Panel Discussion, addressing the Family will take place on December 9th -the day before Human Rights Day on December 10th- and bring the campaign to a close.
The Department of Gender Affairs encourages all persons to support the upcoming days of activism, which are expected to not only highlight the issue of gender-based violence but provide the needed information and support for victims of violence to come forward and receive assistance.
End of Release
November 23rd, 2020