Government Seeks Expanded Partnership to Tackle Sexual Exploitation of Women and Girls

Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 09, 2017 (SKNIS): Acts of sexual exploitation against women, including those posted on social media featuring young girls, have been denounced by the Department of Gender Affairs, which is working with partners to address the problem.

Director of Gender Affairs, Celia Christopher, said officers have been going out to the communities and educating women about the signs and dangers of exploitation and conducting self esteem building activities. However, Ms. Christopher said other strategies are being developed.

“We are going to have to couple education with something else. What is that something else? We are still speaking and because we have our partners now and they will probably bring a new perspective that we have not seen in the Department of Gender Affairs, to help us to tackle this whole issue of self worth and so on,” she stated, on the “Working for You” programme on Wednesday (March 08), which is commemorated as International Women’s Day.

Partners such as the National Men’s Association and faith-based organizations were mentioned as stakeholders to be targeted.

Minister of State responsible for Gender Affairs, Honourable Wendy Phipps, expounded on the role of the church in helping to address these matters.

“The Cabinet has reignited its social alliance with the churches, primarily the Evangelical Associations and the Christian Councils on both islands, and I know that Premier of Nevis, Honourable Vance Amory, who is also the Federal Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs, has been charged with rebuilding that type of relationship for the very reasons and problems we have expounded on thus far,” the minister of state said.

She added that the entities have agreed to meet various deliverables including the “reintroduction of a chaplaincy in all of the schools and then hopefully we can get some mentoring programmes going.” The department’s Boy’s Mentorship Programme was cited as an example of a successful initiative, which can serve as a model.

“We are looking forward to building out that programme with the churches, which as I indicated Premier Amory is leading, so in the next couple of months we expect to see that type of support working along with the Ministry of Education as well as the Department of Gender Affairs and Community Development,” Minister Phipps said.

Director Christopher said outreach activities will continue for parents to better equip them to handle the challenges their child/children may face.

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