Sexual assault forum set for today

The Cayman Islands Crisis Centre is hosting a public forum today (5 April) to launch Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Emphasising the theme ‘One Victim is Too Many, Speak Out,’ the forum will bring together various sectors of the community to discuss the issue of sexual assault.

According to universally accepted statistics, about 28 percent of victims are raped by husbands or boyfriends and 35 percent by acquaintances, explained Ms Estella Scott, executive director of CICC.

In addition, one out of six reported rapes happens to girls under 12 years old, with 25 percent of all sexual offences occurring before the victim reaches 25.

The forum will feature a panel comprising Mary Ann Cannon, from the Wellness Centre; Cindy Blekaitis, from the Women’s Resource Centre; Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale; and Dr. Howard Deosaran, who specialises in gynaecology.

Among those invited to attend the forum are representatives of the police family support unit, Caribbean Haven, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Frances Bodden Girls Home, the Probation and Aftercare unit, the Health Services Authority, the Department of Youth and Sports and all government ministers.

‘I hope to encourage dialogue; to get people talking about these issues, that they exist in our community. Each person has to play a role in helping the community deal with these issues,’ Ms Scott said.

In conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Purple Dragon Martial Arts School is offering three free self-defence lessons.

Sensei Floyd Baptiste will teach women how to defend themselves against sexual assault, including how to defuse the situation before any trouble even starts.

‘If more women get more involved in learning about self-defence, then attackers would think twice before doing anything and, hopefully, the incidence of attacks would go down,’ Sensei Floyd said.

He is very enthusiastic about teaming up with the crisis centre. ‘I think that anything that any of us can do as individuals to make the community a better place, I am more than happy to do it,’ he said.

As part of the activities for the month, the CICC will be going to Cayman Brac to hold a public forum on the issues surrounding sexual assault, as well as go into the schools to hold presentations.

Ms Scott said the centre will also be hosting a vigil speakout 26 April themed ‘Take Back The Night,’ where people can gather to show support for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

Ms Scott hopes these activities will galvanise victims as well as the community at large.

‘By recognising Sexual Assault Awareness Month we hope to increase the understanding about sexual violence in our country and to encourage persons to speak out against these crimes. One victim is too many and it is time for us to speak out,’ she said.

Sexual Assault Public Forum

The Public Forum on Sexual Assault will take place today from 5.30pm to 7pm at the Family Life Centre on Walkers Road. For more information, call the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre at 949-0366.

‘Each person has to play a role in helping the community deal with these issues.’

– Estella Scott, executive director, Cayman Islands Crisis Centre