Women’s Commission President calls for end to victim blaming after woman raped on Ambergris Caye
The National Women’s Commission is calling for an end to victim blaming. Over the weekend, a woman was raped by three men after she hitched a ride from the Secret Beach area of Ambergris Caye. The tragic incident has brought to light the issue of victim blaming which is the act of harming the victim with derogatory statements. The repulsive remarks can often discourage other women from making reports or may worsen the victim’s trauma. President of the National Women’s Commission, Thea Garcia-Ramirez, says the organization is fed up and is calling for an end to the vile comments.
Thea Garcia Ramirez, President, National Women’s Commission: “We should think about the victim, the state of mind of the victim of the family to have some empathy and well my grandmother always used to say if you have nothing nice to say it’s better you say nothing at all. If you can’t have words of encouragement and of support, of solidarity and of encouragement towards a victim to say you know you are brave for speaking out, you are really brave for coming forward and speaking and reporting then it’s best not to say anything at all. Like I said before rape is not about sex. It’s not about the sexual act it’s about power. It is about control and it doesn’t matter how old you are there are women that have been raped in Belize as old as in their 90s and there have been children that are raped that are months old in Belize and so it really has nothing to do with the victim. The ones that are responsible for rape are the rapists and let us be very clear about that. It is part of our machismo culture that is pervasive like I said here in Belize and it is something that we are hoping to work against. It is part of a campaign that we ran break the bias these are some of the biases that we have. We should not normalize this type of behavior. We should not in any way condone it we should shut it down and I’m thanking our friends in the media for allowing time to express on this very dangerous topic. Like I said only rapists are to blame for rape no one else.”
Garcia further explained that the commission’s “Break the Bias” campaign was aimed at tackling such issues. She says there is much work ahead to ensure the rights of women are respected by all.
Thea Garcia Ramirez, President, National Women’s Commission: “Although reporting has been on the rise recently and we want to credit all the collaboration with the government agencies, the civil society organizations, the women’s commission, the office of the special envoy, all the good work that the minister is doing and our partners like the UN partners that we have that have allowed us to get the message across and so yes but still data shows us that we only get about 40% of cases of violence and sexual violence and rape is one of those kinds of violence we only get about 40% of those actually reported so there are still 60% of unreported cases out there. So we want to be very careful, we don’t want to discourage women not to report. Although the National Women’s Commission does not provide any services, we’re not a service provider we do get messages through our Facebook, through messenger and our other social media platforms and when we do that we try to get information and channel the person’s contact numbers and so forth to the agency that we believe should be able to help them.”
The recent rape case in San Pedro is not the only case where victims were further violated. Social media has become the platform used by many to cast blame on victims of sexual assault.