Violence advisory committee meets

The first meeting of a domestic violence and gender issues advisory committee set up in reaction to the killing of Estella Scott-Roberts was held on Thursday.

Chairman of the committee, Len Layman, said it would meet twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

‘At this stage we are just formulating our objectives and planning how we will move forward.

‘We will not be making recommendation each week but rather issuing them as a package at the end of the committee’s work,’ said Mr. Layman, who also chairs the board of directors of the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre.

Minister for Health and Human Services Anthony Eden announced the establishment of the committee at the Silent Witness March on Saturday, 18 October.

He said the committee would make recommendations and give advice to the Legislature on formulating and reviewing policy on domestic abuse issues, gender affairs and equality.

The committee’s work will be on-going, but its first recommendations are expected within 30 days of its first meeting.

Mrs. Scott-Roberts had been a key figure in the fight against domestic abuse and violence and was instrumental in setting up the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, a refuge for battered women and children.

She was killed 10 October after leaving a restaurant where she celebrated her birthday with friends. Her badly burned body was found in her vehicle along the dykes roads in West Bay.

More than 2,000 people attended the annual Silent Witness March this year, taking to the streets to express their sadness and horror at her death and to call for an end to domestic violence in Cayman.

Representatives of agencies that deal with domestic abuse, gender affairs and equality, as well as other experts and practitioners in those fields are members of the committee.

The first meeting was attended by Mr. Layman, as well as Carol Graham and Marilyn Conolly from the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre; Cindy Blekaitis from the Women’s Resource Centre; Jen Dixon from the Department of Children and Family Services; and Velma Hewitt from the Business and Professional Women’s Club.

Also in attendance was LaNishka Farrington-McSweeney from the Sexual Harassment and Stalking Task Force; the Department of Community Rehabilitation’s Cleviston Hunte: Doris Morris from the Family Support Unit and Tammy Ebanks-Bishop, Senior Policy Advisor on Gender Affairs from the Ministry of Health and Human Services’ Senior Policy Advisor on Gender Affairs.

Len Layman making a speech at the Silent Witness March on 18 October.

Photo: Shurna Robbins