Good Afternoon distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
We have walked to the Legislative Assembly today, like we have done for so many years, in order to show our support for women who suffer in silence; women who are too afraid to speak out against domestic violence!
But, unlike previous years, our march to these steps has been a most heart wrenching and painful experience, as we continue to mourn the loss of our beloved Estella Scott-Roberts.
As the organisers in the Business and Professional Women’s Club have said, the purpose of the Silent Witness March is to raise awareness about the prevalence of domestic abuse, and to encourage a zero-tolerance attitude.
The horror of violence, however, impacted us all last weekend as it ripped a loving wife and daughter from the lives of her loved ones and robbed our Islands of a caring and strong woman; a role model whose main purpose in life was to be of service to others.
As a courageous advocate for women and children, Estella fought diligently to protect those most vulnerable and victimised by domestic abuse. Hence, our presence here today honours the continuation of her work in a very tangible way.
She would want us to understand that domestic abuse is one of the most common forms of violence, which cuts across all ethnic, economic, social lines and age groups. It is true that not only women suffer from domestic violence; but it is also true that it is far more commonly suffered by women, all over the world.
While we struggle to cope with the loss of Estella, we must not let this atrocity change who we are as a people. I implore every one of you to treat each other with compassion, understanding, respect and love; for the more we are compassionate, the more we are understanding, the more we respect and love one another, the more we will succeed in building communities in which violence cannot take hold.
To honour Estella’s spirit and work, I urge you to ask yourself, what can I do today to help my community? What commitment can I make to lend a hand to others in need? Without such civic responsibility, our peace-loving islands could very well fall victim to a climate of fear, which is one of the social tolls of violence.
To those who would attempt to intimidate and terrorise the members of our community with their cowardly and brutal acts, I say that we will not be silenced; we will not be afraid; and justice will prevail.
To the family of Estella, I understand that there are no words that can truly capture the magnitude of your loss. I can promise however that we will continue her fight against domestic abuse, so that the power of her life resonates generation after generation. We will carry Estella’s spirit in our hearts forever!! And to that end, I would ask the board to consider re-naming the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre in the memory of her.
In closing, friends, I want to applaud the agencies and persons who work diligently in the community, day-in and day-out; many of whom encounter threats and abuse frequently, but yet continue their determined efforts to improve the quality of life for others, to assist persons to make changes for the better.
In this same vein, I am pleased to report that a committee comprising of experts and practitioners in the field of gender affairs and equality is being formed to review and make necessary recommendations for policy change.
I would also specifically like to commend the Business and Women’s Club and the Young Business and Professional Women’s Club for their dedication to this cause and their organisation of this event. I would like to leave with you a comment and request – Let’s use our internal police; our conscience.
May God truly bless us all; there can be no doubt that we need God’s blessings now!