CIM EVENT WEAR RED FOR WOMEN MAY 2, 2014
I speak in the capacity of Chair of the Permanent Council and also as the Permanent Representative of St Kitts in recognizing the dedicated efforts of Ambassador Moreno and her team as the CIM works with states to foster a greater appreciation of the societal effects of domestic violence and abuse, to challenge the hemisphere to enact the appropriate legislative responses for preventative and punitive recourse, and I commend today’s event which is designed to bring visual and vocal focus to domestic violence through the most obvious and potently symbolic color RED.
Domestic violence respects no one since everyone who witnesses its shear wanton frequency is negatively impacted. It undermines the full blossoming of lives, and everyone who progresses, and advances, and rises above its effects does so in spite of its capacity to demean and dehumanize.
Domestic violence has no friends. The person who perpetrates it is less than representative of the Good who created him, choosing instead to hurt and to destroy what he cannot create. The woman who experiences it is often broken, a life shrouded in fear and self-doubt, relegated dreams of what-ifs. And the children in this equation experience every hurt, the exchange of hate between the two persons they love most in the world, each violent act a scar on their souls and their psyches.
Personalmente, considero como un objetivo más urgente la necesidad de que suene la alarma, para instar a cada mujer, a cada madre, a cada maestro que estuviese constantemente alerta, vigilante. Debemos enseñar a nuestros hijos y a nuestras hijas que la violencia doméstica en todas sus formas es reprobable. No embellecemos el abuso doméstico. Al contrario pintémoslo en colores y palabras apropiadamente feos de inaceptabilidad. En las aulas, en las fábricas, en todas las altas esferas del poder ejecutivo, nuestras hermanas deben conocer sus derechos e insistir en ellas para que podamos romper la cadena de violencia que existe en nuestras comunidades.
It all starts with education, and self-sufficiency. In my country where fifty one (51%) percent of the families are headed by women, the education of women is a critical factor in the reduction of poverty and the wellbeing of families and society. That is why key components of progressive nation building for sustainability twin education with poverty reduction. Perhaps there is no more gallant an endeavor made in this regard in St Kitts and Nevis than in the reiteration of the right of teenage mothers to education in the mainstream. The policy decision of 1997 was followed by support mechanisms, which ensured that teenage mothers were provided with the necessary support to balance their roles as mothers and students, and complete their education successfully towards enhanced possibilities for income generation, an empowerment towards self-sufficiency.
The government of St. Kitts and Nevis has also put in place a carefully developed assistance program to encourage and facilitate upward social mobility for women heads of households and their children in the areas of land ownership, housing, post-secondary scholarships and/or grants, and skills training.
Importantly, violence against women and children is not seen as either a “personal” or a “family” matter, but as socially destructive behavior demanding judicial intervention by the State. Federal Law clearly defines domestic violence as including “physical, sexual, emotional or psychological or financial abuse” and a pattern of behavior of any kind, the purpose of which is to undermine the emotional and mental well-being of a person. In this regard, the law of the land acknowledges and reinforces all the rights of women to equality and offers zero tolerance for domestic abuse and incidences of familial violence. This is borne out in legislative support for policies and programs such as the passage of the Equal Pay Act, the Guardianship Act, the Maintenance Act, the Child Justice Act, the Domestic Violence Act, and the Human Trafficking of Persons Act – all focusing on gender equality and strengthening of the family unit while protecting all the rights of our women.
Dejenos honorar a nuestras hernamas quienes no han podido amanecer hoy a causa de la violencia dómestica. As we “Wear Red for Women” today, let us pause to remember the lives affected by domestic violence, many cut down in the noon time of their day, and let us pledge in our various capacities to work for the advancement of all women’s rights.
Statement by Ambassador Jacinth Henry-Martin
Ambassador of St Kitts and Nevis
Chair of the OAS Permanent Council