Minster for Gender Affairs Mike Adam is urging the people of the Cayman Islands to take a “firm stance” against violence in the community in this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign.
Mr. Adam said the “often-silent scourge of gender-based violence” lay beneath the surface of daily life and remained a significant problem in the Cayman Islands.
In a message to the public on the eve of the campaign, which began on Friday, 25 November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – and continues until 10 December which is International Human Rights Day, Mr. Adam said violence against women and girls globally was one of the most widespread violations of human rights.
“Gender-based violence both reflects and reinforces inequities between men and women and compromises the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims. It encompasses a wide range of human rights violations, including sexual abuse of children, rape, domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, trafficking of women and girls and several harmful traditional practices,” the minister said.
The US-based Center for Women’s Global Leadership launched the 16 Days of Activism international campaign 21 years ago, calling on people and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence.
This year’s theme is “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Change Militarism and End Violence Against Women,” which focuses on how “peace in the home” can extend outward to equate to “peace in the world”.
Mr. Adam said violence against females had far-reaching consequences, harming families and communities.
“According to the United Nations, gender-based violence is experienced by up to 70 per cent of women in their lifetime. It is estimated that worldwide, one in five women will experience rape or attempted rape. Women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war, and malaria,” he said.
“Here in Cayman, we cannot ignore these unfortunate facts, but must recognise the impact that these issues have on our society and find solutions. Ignorance is no excuse,” Mr. Adam said.
During this year’s campaign, the Department of Counselling Services’ Family Resource Centre, has partnered with the Business and Professional Women’s Club Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac to help people in Cayman understand gender-violence issues and the challenges they entail.
“Society, as a whole, plays a crucial role in developing peaceful understandings and collective safety. While there are many helpful tools and resources, public participation is key. With the recent passage of the new Gender Equality Law, we are looking to create a legal framework that promotes the spirit of equality between men and women in the workplace and with other matters,” Mr. Adam said. “It is only by working together can we create an equal future for our sons and daughters.”
He said men also fell victim to domestic violence and must also be reached out to.
“As we join in this effort, we are aware that this campaign calls for an end to violence against women, children, and any other human rights infractions. Fortunately, the people of the Cayman Islands do not suffer the devastation torn by war or terrorism. However, we know that there are victims of gender-based violence even in our small communities,” Minister Adam said.
He said many homes, behind their closed doors, were war zones leaving families “scarred and bruised”, with some living in emotional turmoil. “However, we continue to work in the hope of eliminating this problem,” he said.
The minister said it was concerning that in modern society, violence was an increasing threat to the lives of children and adolescents.
“Every citizen must therefore assume a measure of responsibility to reduce these incidents. The change we want to see must start within ourselves,” he said.
He applauded the Business and Professional Women’s Club for leading the campaign and working alongside other local organisations to raise the level of awareness about gender-based violence.
“Your hard work truly deserves our appreciation,” he said. “Let us unite and support efforts against gender violence and in doing so, help build peaceful and safe communities.”