NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (December 08, 2021) — Sensitising teens and young adults to the scourge of gender-based violence was the aim of an event hosted by the Department of Gender Affairs on Sunday, December 05, 2021 at Lime Beach Bar.
Dubbed “Write Your Own Script,” the activity formed part of the observance of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence which runs from November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women to December 10, Human Rights Day.
Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams, Junior Minister of Health and Gender Affairs in opening remarks explained the rationale for the activity and the difference between last year’s session.
“Last year we had a similar function and we called that one “Flipping the Script,” and it was geared towards women who would have been in abusive relationships and by some stroke of luck, they were able to get out of those relationships and they were spared to speak of their experiences.
“This year we are doing something different. We want to have early intervention for our young people and to ask them to write their own scripts before they get into abusive relationships,” she said.
The minister told the youths in attendance that the Ministry of Health and Gender Affairs wants them to know their worth and she urged them to stay away from abusive relationships.
“The Ministry of Health and Gender Affairs wants you to know that there is a different road that you can take. You are all very important and you must know your worth. You must know what you want to do in life and where you want your road to take, and it is very important that you allow nothing, absolutely nothing, to derail you from where you want to get and abusive relationships can do just that,” she said.
Mrs. Brandy-Williams assured the youths that in times of difficulty whenever they encounter abuse of any form, they could seek the ministry’s assistance.
“Youngsters, I know that you have big dreams and we are here to assist you to make those dreams reality. The Ministry of Health and Gender Affairs, we are in tune with what’s happening and so we are asking, in any event, that you find yourself in a situation where you have to compromise your wellbeing, reach out to someone, have a discussion with someone and I say, the Ministry of Health and Gender Affairs, we present ourselves to be your advocates. We present ourselves to be that person from who we can seek help and guidance…
“I want you to leave from here making a commitment that you will not allow yourself to be pulled into an abusive relationship, no matter what,” she said.
Meantime Ms. Latoya Jeffers, Assistant Secretary in the ministry, while delivering the vote of thanks offered some advice to the youths.
“One of the things I want you to take from this activity is to remember that you have a voice so use it… Your body is your own. No one should tell you that you belong to them. You belong to you. I am telling this to all the young women, young men, girls and boys: your body is your own. We have to break the silence.
“Too long we have sat by and watched things happen to our friends, to our parents, to our neighbours and said nothing. So we are here tonight to start to break that silence. We have to speak out against gender-based violence,” she said.
Ms. Jeffers also encouraged the youths to chart the course of their lives wisely.
“I want you to understand young men, young women, that you decide what you etch on those pages. You have one chance to write your book. You are the authors of your book, your story and you write it the way you want it to turn out. So tonight, I say to all of you, write your own script.
The event was dotted with performances and testimonials from young persons who experienced abusive relationships and lived to tell their stories. Mr. McMillan Cuffy, a psychologist at the Mental Health Unit was the guest speaker. Mr. Mario Phillip, Gender Affairs Officer in the department co-chaired the event with Mrs. Pam Martin.