John Dinkelman, US Chargé d’Affaires, said: “It is a pleasure to be here with you today as we stand together to eliminate violence against women.
“In 1991, the Rutgers University Center for Women’s Global Leadership, along with 23 participants in the first Women’s Global Institute on Women, Violence, and Human Rights, called for a global campaign of ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.’
“In December 1999, The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
“Today’s recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and launch of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence highlights the continuing commitment to freeing women and girls from private brutalities or public intimidation.
“Whether it occurs in our own neighbourhood or on distant shores, violence against women and girls damages both men and women alike.
“Families, economies, society and personal security all suffer from this hostile and reprehensible behaviour.
“The fact is society benefits when women are healthy, safe, and able to contribute their labour, leadership, and creativity to their national economies.
“This year, the United States Embassy has partnered with the Ministry of Social Services’ Bureau of Women’s Affairs, the Crisis Centre, and the Zonta Club of Nassau to bring attention to the dangers of gender-based violence.
“We were delighted that earlier this year Ulester Douglas, Director of ‘Men Against Violence’ based in Atlanta, Georgia, worked with Dr Robin Roberts of CARIMEN (a Caribbean-wide network of men working to address domestic violence issues) in developing a training course for Bahamian men and boys on recognising and controlling abusive behaviours.
“In celebration of the United Nation’s International Day of the Girl, we, along with our partners presented a seminar on healthy relationships to teenage girls.
“Today, as we launch into 16 days of activism in support of the elimination of violence against women, significant progress has been made around the world in the efforts to address gender-based violence.
“The prosecution of violence against women is one such significant stride that pays enormous dividends in the long run for all.
In the United States the prosecution of intimate partner violence has yielded substantial results. Intimate partner violence can adversely affect a woman’s income, job performance, and even her employment. Women suffering intimidate partner violence can experience isolation, inability to work, lack of participation in regular day-to-day activities, and most importantly their ability to care for themselves and their children. The United States’ Violence Against Women Act, strengthened efforts to investigate and prosecute such crimes is estimated to have saved more than $16 billion in lost wages since its enactment in 1994.
“Having seen tangible results of what legislation and action can do, the United States Government encourages increased advocacy and a greater interaction between policy makers and those who work in this field.
“We stand ready to support the Ministry of Social Services and its partners to empower girls to speak up for themselves, and to educate boys to speak up for their sisters – for it is important to include men, boys in addressing and preventing violence.
“As Secretary of State John Kerry has stated, ‘Too many women are being silenced, abused, or subjected to violence simply because of their gender.’
“It is the endurance and courage of those who have endured such abuse that inspire us to continue to work toward a world where every woman can live free of brutality, hostility and intimidation, and pursue her fullest potential.
Eliminating gender-based violence requires the concerted efforts of the international community, civil society, and the many unsung heroes who work tirelessly in their own communities to stop violence against women.
“On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the United States reaffirms its commitment to women and girls who suffer and pledges to stand together with The Bahamas in building a world where everyone can pursue their dreams without living in fear.
“For no nation can truly progress unless all its people, including its women and girls, have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.”