On the 20th of August 2022, Equal Rights, Access and Opportunities SVG Inc. (“ERAO SVG”) in collaboration with the Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network Chapter in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (“CYPAN SVG”), successfully hosted a Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) Symposium.
The event which was conducted in Kingstown at the Conference Room upstairs of the Music Centre started at around 1:00 PM and ended sometime after 4:00 PM.
During this event, various presentations were made by various speakers highlighting various issues concerning VAWC in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
The facilitator for this event and a co-founder of ERAO SVG, was Ms. Makini Barrow, who is a Gender and Social Affairs Specialist, amongst other things.
During her presentation, Ms. Barrow expounded upon the importance of us not just placing majority efforts on responsive measures and strategies to incidents of VAWC but preventative strategies and mechanisms to curb future cases of VAWC. Ms. Barrow with her interactive presentation touched on policies, laws, projects, programmes, activities, conventions, and treaties that govern VAWC in SVG. She based her presentation using clear definitions and scenarios to give clear and true examples of VAWC to create a visual picture of the negative impacts of VAWC on Vincentian society.
Founder of ERAO SVG and Lawyer, Jeshua Bardoo, also briefly touched on some of the laws in relation to sexual offences under SVG’s Criminal Code and highlighted the need for legal reform in SVG. Amongst other things, he highlighted how males in SVG appear to have less legal protection than females under the sexual offences under SVG’s Criminal Code.
Moreover, the Sexual Offences Unit of the Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) delivered an impactful presentation. PC 914 Snagg and Corporal 599 Jordon from the Unit brought their dynamic energy and passion to the Symposium. Both women gave very informative presentations about the work of the Sexual Offences Unit in SVG and how it can protect persons who are victims/survivors of sexual abuse. They also highlighted the importance of collective society in order to combat VAWC. The responsibility of the RSVGPF is to protect and serve but civilians also have a responsibility to be each other’s keeper.
Gender-based violence survivor Ms. Prislet Francis shared with the audience a very emotional testimony about how she survived domestic violence. An experience that left her in the hospital and almost dead. She brought the audience to tears as she narrated her traumatic experience and what it took for her to survive and empower herself to be able to embark on her journey to empower others, one conversation at a time. Ms. Prislet expressed the importance of key stakeholders who are placed with the job of combating VAWC to take each case seriously, as she believed this might have prevented her traumatic case of VAW.
ERAO SVG encourages all Vincentians to continue to educate themselves on issues surrounding VAWC. ERAO SVG also calls upon the State and government officials to reform and create better laws so that women and children in SVG can feel safer and be better protected from violence. Moreover, ERAO SVG is calling for more partnership between Government agencies, NGOs, Civil Societies, and advocates to aid in combatting VAWC, as it will take a holistic effort between multiple stakeholders to effectively combat VAWC in SVG.