March aimed to break abuse silence

Scores of men, women, and children gathered at Camana Bay on Saturday to take part in the Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation’s annual walk to end the silence on sexual abuse.  

April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month, during which organizations worldwide try to raise public awareness about sexual violence, in particular sexual assault and rape. 

Rayle Roberts, chairman of the Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation, said he was happy with the increased support at the Steps to End Silence Walk this year.  

“About 100 people came – a little bit more than last year. We’re happy with any increase that we get,” he said. 

The march is held in silence to reflect the silence that surrounds the subject of sexual abuse. 

Mr. Roberts said the foundation had given two grants to partner agencies that work with young men and young women to help highlight the issue in the community. 

Mr. Roberts formed the foundation in 2008 after his wife, Estella Scott–Roberts, was killed on October 10, 2008. Two men were convicted of her murder. 

Ms. Scott-Roberts was a staunch advocate for gender equality and of protecting women from domestic abuse. She was instrumental in the establishment of the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, a refuge for battered women and their children. 

“Sexual abuse is a very serious problem,” said Mr. Roberts following Saturday’s march. “Any big space that you’re in, there’s probably one person that’s abused and probably a perpetrator around you.” 

He added, “It’s quite silent here, a lot of people don’t talk about it … Demonstrations like this helps the victims know that there are people that they can come and talk to. It makes the abuser know that there is less space for you to operate and there’s less people who are going to tolerate that behavior.” 

Mr. Roberts hopes to gain more support over the years.  

“I hope that we become one of the leaders here in this fight against abuse. I hope that we have 50,000 or 60,00 people walking and making that type of impact. “I hope that we become big enough to show the world that you can survive without abusers,” he said.  

George Town MLA Winston Connolly was among those who took part in the silent march. 

“Sexual abuse is a problem and I think we have not addressed it over the years correctly. Estella was a personal friend of mine, and her husband has been a friend since we were schoolmates at Savannah Primary,” Mr. Connolly said. 

He said he plans to be an advocate for stopping sexual violence against women and for the adoption of healthy sexual practices, adding that he would support the Estella Scott Roberts foundation with everything the group is trying to accomplish. 

“With more events like this and with more people being empowered to come forward, we can tackle this and get to the right place.  

“The message is keep doing what we’re doing, step it up, and let’s all do our part to end violence against women and sexual violence,” said Mr. Connolly.  

After the walk concluded, children from the Purple Dragon School performed a karate demonstration. There was also free face painting, yoga stretches and post-walk massages.  

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Families walk together to raise awareness of sexual abuse. – PHOTO: SAMANTHA BONHAM

1 COMMENT

  1. We should all applaud the strong effort by the Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation annual walk to break the silence on sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is one of the worst criminal assaults on any human being – whether child or adult, young or old. Any effort to end the ongoing silence is a step in the right direction. And absolutely no effort should be spared to publicly highlight the issue.
    In due consideration of the victims, there just may be some, (even minute) ‘justifiable’ reasons why some victims would rather not come forward. One of these reasons could be fear of possible retaliation by the offender. However, if the perpetrators of these crimes are not caught and dealt with to the fullest extent of the law, they will continue in their dastardly acts with absolutely no concern or sympathy for their victims.
    Sexual abuse is also a very big problem here in New York. It happens just about every day, whether on the streets, in parks or other public or private places, at night or in broad daylight.
    It should be everyone’s endeavor to contribute to public awareness and the ongoing effort to reduce the incidents of sexual abuse. Let’s be honest, stamping it out altogether will never succeed because of the depraved mentality of some.

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