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.