The 16 Days of Activism closes today following multiple activities around the country. While the calendar of events was carried out for this year’s observance it is the hope of many that the work will continue throughout the year. Speaker of the House, Valerie Woods says she looks forward to legislation going to the house that would work against gender-based violence.
Hon. Valerie Woods, Speaker of the House of Representatives: “In the parliament I am looking forward to the debates on motions or bills that will improve legislation to assist. I am looking forward obviously to the day when Belize can have more women in parliament because when we are seen more then more of our young girls will be able to see what they can be and be in a position to effect the change that is affecting them. I am looking forward to that. I know that this is not gonna be easy. I know that we are a long way from that but these types of events, this type of awareness it cannot stop. We need to continue doing it. We need to pressure our leaders of all political persuasion, religion persuasion, that they’re not doing enough and that we demand better. We represent half of the population we need to be given the respect and the urgency of action when the horrible crimes occur and obviously thorough investigations to ensure that we’ve done all we can to put the perpetrator to justice. And there are many other interventions, community policing can be enhanced like taking on a gender based approach as well as well as the database on the crimes against women to ensure that it is not managed in an isolated way in order to prevent future incidents.”
As to the varying degrees of abuse, Senator Elena Smith says more public education needs to occur not only during the 16 days of activism.
Senator Elena Smith, President, BNTU: “You are so right that we often tend to overlook the emotional abuse that people go through and the financial abuse that people go through and we see for example with our young people when they’re dating something simple might happen and they just take it as ‘Oh well you know he didn’t mean it.’, ‘You know he just called me stupid and it was nothing.’ and then it escalates from there and those are the things that we have to highlight that these things don’t always begin with physical and very serious abuse it can begin with simply using words, verbal abuse and then it escalates and it gets further so it is important indeed that we look at this as something critical for our students to be aware of so that from young they can tell even with your friends it doesn’t have to be an intimate partner even with your friends sometimes you know your good friends sometimes abuse you and you don’t see it as abuse so yes it is important and we ought to find a way to incorporate these kinds of topics within the curriculum.”
Executive Director for the National Council on Ageing, Ixchel Poot, she says that there needs to be more attention paid to older persons as gender based violence extends to that population group.
Ix-chel Poot, Director, National Council on Ageing: “One of the things we are looking at the council is how do we build the capacity of families who are caregivers of older persons. How do we ensure that these families have access to services ? How do we get back to having services like day centers open providing caregiver training and these are long term activities that have to be continuous. It has to be a cycle of us continually building capacity and having resources available for our most vulnerable persons but fro all families in Belize.”