Silent witnesses: voices for change

A notably smaller crowd than last year’s came out to support the 11th annual Silent Witness March, which took place on Saturday, 17 September in George Town.

Silent march

Residents participate in the recent Silent Witness March against violence and domestic abuse. Photo: Stuart Wilson

The march got its start in Cayman in 1999, after former Business and Professional Women’s Club President Edna Moyle, Government Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Joy Basdeo, Annie Multon, Lana May Smith, Francine Jackson and Cissy Delaphena attended the One Mile March to the steps of the White House for the very first Silent Witness March in 1998.

Mrs. Moyle was also one of the guest speakers at the first event in Washington and the group of women decided to bring the concept to the Cayman Islands through the Business and Professional Women’s Club.

The reason the march is silent is in remembrance of those who are victims of abuse and talking, music and cell phones are not allowed.

Marchers also hold aloft fire-engine red silhouettes made in all shapes and sizes, which represent the diversity of women.

President of the Club, Velma Powery-Hewitt, said the march had not necessarily weaned when compared to previous years, with the exception of last year’s march.

She said the difference between last year’s march and any other was that it came on the heels of the killing of women’s rights and antiviolence activist Estella Scott-Roberts.

The president did however go on to say that she was hoping to see more participation this year because of recent developments in the community but explained, ‘We live in a society where people complain but when given the opportunity to be a part of change, they don’t come out.’

She said Caymanians were more comfortable with the radio talk show where they could not be seen when standing up.

‘That’s just the way it is here,’ she reflected, before attributing this attitude as root cause for the brazenness with which crimes are now committed in the Cayman Islands.

Though the Silent Witness March is only for one day, the event serves as a prelude to 16 days of activism, which run between 25 November and 10 December.

Mrs. Hewitt said she wanted to publicly acknowledge the Minister for Community Affairs, Mike Adam, for participating in the march.

She explained that both party leaders and all respective MLAs were invited but Mr. Adam was the only member to attend.

‘Domestic abuse is a problem that is so far reaching, it is hard to fathom but most of the youth that are involved in criminal behaviour, perpetrating violence or becoming victims of violence, also saw these kinds of acts in the home.’

She continued: ‘When a child is exposed to that kind of trauma, we all pay a price.’