The Ministry of Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations in collaboration with UNICEF, officially unveiled its new campaign “Break the Silence,” earlier this week.
“Break The Silence Campaign” targets victims and families and empowers them to take action in the prevention of child sexual abuse. The workshop seeks to establish a network of religious leaders for a better response to child abuse in Saint Lucia. The religious leaders were granted the opportunity to discuss the prevalence and effects of child abuse on individuals and the general society.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Cointha Thomas highlighted the importance of the society playing a proactive role in protecting children from sexual abuse and the risk of HIV.
“Recognizing the limitations of our interventions, we reach out to our partners to assist us. Religious leaders have a powerful voice, you have influence, you encounter people, you understand the problem, so today I ask you to speak frankly and constructively. But constructive to commit to being our partner to achieve a zero tolerance for child sexual abuse. The children of Saint Lucia deserve no less,” Thomas said.
UNICEF Communication for Development Specialist Dr. Lisa McClean-Trotman spoke on the need to work together to put systems in place to protect children.
“Keeping silent about child abuse is not an option for us. We know it happens, but it is not an option for us. It doesn’t help the situation, it is not an option. Secondly, protecting whether it be the church, community leaders, that’s no longer an option for us. We need to be operating or thinking within the mind set of what is in the best interest of the children,” she said.
This campaign will serve as a platform for advocacy among policy makers, police authorities, health workers, community leaders and religious leaders.