Fellow citizens, once again as a responsible working group, the New Democratic Party Women’s Arm invites you to reflect on how as a sovereign nation we can ensure accountability and sustainable transformation regarding violence and sexual molestation of our women and girls. The theme ‘Generation Equality Stands Against Rape’ is very significant in helping us to recognize the importance of breaking the silence and fear that stalk our blessed land and ensuring that gender-based violence whether it affects women and girls, men and boys is totally unacceptable. In spite of the material and technological strides that humans have made over the years, the curse of sexual violence continues. Perhaps, what is worse is that this reprehensible act in the form of rape, disrespect and exploitation is rampant in many of our work places. Indeed, worldwide, sexual violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread violations of human rights. According to the United Nations, 35% of women and girls globally experience some form of physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime with up to seven in ten women facing this abuse in some countries. Women and girls in St Vincent and the Grenadines have not been exempted in terms of the frequency at which these acts are committed and the tender age of some victims. For our nation, this does not only create a loss at individual and personal levels but also at national levels with serious implications for sustainable economic and social development in the society. Given the pace of violations against women and girls in our society, we encourage our main socialization agencies – our homes, schools, churches, wider communities, print and electronic media to play meaningful roles by ensuring that we obtain desired changes and strive to end the culture that normalizes the abuse of women and girls. The government too has a role to play in terms of bringing justice services closer to communities, activating and re-enforcing the structures and dynamics of justice to help strengthen the capacities of the police, judicial investigators and prosecutors to work with offenders and victims of sexual and gender-based violence.The education of citizens, empathy, prevention, support, a Sex Offender’s Registry and no nonsense enforcement of the relevant laws have long become critical and imperative. The world in general and St Vincent and the Grenadines in particular cannot continue to allow victims to be disrespected and abused by standing idly on the side. Perpetrators must be punished for their criminal acts. We must intensify our determination to come together to unite in the elimination of sexual molestation and violence against women.
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