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Women In Action (WIA), the women’s arm of the ruling United Workers Party (UWP), has spoken out against recent reports of violence against women and children.
President of WIA Diane Felicien said her organisation has zero tolerance for such behaviour and would like to see that something is done to address this very serious issue, which has affected society for years.
“Violence of any kind against women and children has tremendous costs to communities and society in addition to its negative impact on public well-being, health and safety, academic achievement, productivity, law enforcement, and public programmes and overall budgetary implications,” Felicien told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) on Friday.
She said if left unaddressed, these human rights violations will result in serious consequences for current and future generations and for efforts to ensure peace and security.
The effects of violence span all areas of society, according to Felicien, and are not limited to broken homes, family feuds etc. These dreadful effects can remain with women and children for a lifetime, and can pass from one generation to another.
“Studies show that children who have witnessed, or been subjected to violence are more likely to become victims or abusers themselves,” she explained.
The WIA president told SNO that often times perpetrators sometimes target disadvantaged children who do not have access to modern technology and provide such items to them, and then later take advantage of those same children.
“Parents revert to the old way. Question your children as to from whom they received items that you never provided, and have them return to sender,” she cautioned parents and guardians.
Further, Felicien said the right of women and children to live free of violence depends on the protection of their human rights and a strong chain of justice.
For an effective response to this scourge, the various sectors in society must work together.
“A rape survivor must have rapid access to a health clinic that can administer emergency medical care, including treatment to prevent HIV and unintended pregnancies and counseling. A woman who is beaten by her husband must have someplace to go with her children to enjoy safety, sanity and shelter. A victim of violence must have confidence that when she files a police report, she will receive justice and the perpetrator will be punished.”
In terms of young ladies who have gone missing, this can be reduced by us practicing being our neighbor’s keeper, Felicien told SNO.
“Parents, we urge you, when children come to your home, let us revert to the old way of getting in touch with their parents to ensure they were granted consent to be at your house,” she added.
The WIA head also believes that adolescent boys in school who learns about health and sexuality must equally be taught that violence and discrimination against girls are unacceptable.
“We have every confidence that our women leaders who now head the Ministry of Health and Gender Relations will work in the interest of our sisters who feel that they do not have a voice.”
“Today we stand like Malala Yousafzai who said, “I raise up my voice – not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard.”