Candlelight vigil against violence

Anti-violence advocates held a candlelight vigil outside the courthouse on Monday night as part of the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.


About 15 people took part, holding candles, praying as well as listening to and giving speeches.

Velma Powery-Hewitt, president of the Business and Professional Women’s Club which organises the 16 Days of Activism admitted she was disappointed by the small turnout, but said those who had gathered were there with a purpose.

She said: ‘We are all here because we care and we are here with a common purpose to acknowledge that gender violence affects way too many in our society. Gender violence has far reaching and life-long implications and it has robbed us too many times of our citizens.

‘We can no longer deny that gender violence has taken up residence within our community as we see and read of the painful and deadly effects.’

She said Cayman has seen a pronounced increase in gender violence over the past 16 months.

Ms Powery-Hewitt described how violence in the home is affecting the young people in the community. ‘Come here on a Friday [when juvenile court sits], it pains your heart,’ she said.

‘Children learn what they live and their first lessons are in their homes. Let us go back to the old true and tried commonsense strategy and start teaching from early childhood that violence is not the answer,’ she said.

She added: ‘Is it any wonder our prisons are full of angry young men? Is it any wonder our girls have such poor choices when choosing their mates when their fathers have been violent?’

Pastors Bob Thompson and Stanwyck Myles said prayers at the gathering that also included psalms.

Cindy Blekaitis, a counsellor with the Family Resource Centre warned against people making assumptions that gender violence was a problem faced by a particular race or class or whether it was a man’s or a woman’s issue.

‘These issues may be in our very own household. Let us all keep our eyes open and see gender violence for what it really is,’ she said.

Throughout the next few days, until 10 December, there will be talks at schools and messages about gender violence issued by the Family Resource Centre, the Crisis Centre and other organisations.