When news of the death of Hermelinda Pinks Emmanuel spread on social media and at every level of society, presumably at the hands of her husband Jason Emmanuel who was also found dead in their home on Rose Lane Belize City, it triggered the discussion on domestic violence. Many women and even the PUP’s United Women’s group spoke out against it. Among them are prominent attorneys like Audrey Matura and Lisa Shoman. But Shoman has taken an even greater step on the heels of the incident. She is now championing the fight towards further change for Belizean women and girls in the social and legal platforms. Early on Monday morning, Shoman published “A Manifesto for Linda” on her Facebook page. In it she states her commitment to take the lead in advocating for change, a change for women’s rights, better services, opportunities, and even legal reforms. As she wrote, quote, “It will range from procedural to substantive to cultural change,” end of quote. Today she told the media that the movement began in her kitchen where she wrote a first draft. Today she is working on finalizing the second draft with the guidance and support of health professionals, lawyers, and other women who have committed to join the effort. But why now? Shoman explained.
Lisa Shoman – Attorney
“I’ll be honest with you at first I thought it was she who had shot him and then killed herself just the way it looked on social media and when I started asking questions and digging the details came out so I would say for me Linda as she is known is the catalyst but I’ve been moving towards this place for at least thirty years where as other marginalized and or oppressed groups if you want to call them that have been able to get certain things accomplished. Women still face overwhelming problems with domestic violence, with sexual assault, with sexual offense and it does not seem to be getting any better, in fact I would argue that it is getting worse whether this is a function of the culture that we are currently experiencing, whether it is a phenomenon where everything travels through social media at the speed of light or whether it has to do with the fact of increasing poverty in Belize causing there to be bigger social pressures all around I know that as woman I can see that other women in Belize are suffering and we very much need awakening.”
Shoman says her focus is specific – women and girls. The work will not entail the formation of any organization but a coordinated effort by anyone and everyone who is willing to join in the fight. But where will this all lead? Shoman says her heart is set on a very real outcome, a change in society that has been proven to be successful and functional in El Salvador.
Lisa Shoman – Attorney
“Cuidad Mujer in EL Salvador is a holistic center where women can go and it was set up to deal with mainly domestic violence, sexual offenses, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and trafficking issues and essentially what it is actually a campus where women receive services that range from sexual and reproductive help that range from approaching the police, the police are on site, its staff by women for women, there is full child care center. You can get a subsidized meal and you can get almost every type of sexual and reproductive health need fulfilled, everything from mammograms to even a rape kit to even a pap smear, eye testing. You can learn economic skills everything from being a lines person to be being a farmer, teaching women what to do with their kitchen gardens, teaching them how to make a living being a farmer and it also has programs for girls too and it’s expanded into something called SuidadJoven so there are seven of these centers in El Salvador. El Salvador has a population of five million people or there about. I think this is where we want to move towards in Belize, if we can start with one center we can expand it to at least three. Its co-founded by the Inter-American Development Bank and the government of El Salvador so for instance the IDB has put some thirty or forty million U.S. into this and El Salvador put in counterpart funding on nine million so you see what we are talking about, it is a huge ambitious undertaking but seriously, the women of Belize deserve no less than this.”
Shoman says she will continue to work on the manifesto and hopes that within two weeks she will have a platform to move on from. Shoman also spoke on some ten to twelve points that she has included in the manifesto which we will present to you in our subsequent newscasts.