By FELICITY DARVILLE
Sixteen days of activism to “Say No to Violence Against Women and Girls” wrapped up worldwide this Monday with the commemoration of International Human Rights Day.
Here in the Bahamas, Zonta Bahamas brought a rigorous activism schedule to a close with the “Walk In My Shoes” event held at Christie Park on Saturday, with social media agitation continuing after the main event. Members of the public responded well and scores of new or gently used shoes were collected by Contains to donate to charity.
Each pair of shoes represented a victim of domestic violence or any kind of violence, and people were encouraged to understand the matter from the view of the victim. By placing yourself in another’s shoes mentally, you are better able to understand what victims go through and how to help them, Zonta believes.
National Advocacy Campaign Chairman Marisa Mason-Smith said the group joins Zonta International in advocacy efforts each year with the aim of seeing decreased incidents of violence in the community. Zontians took to the streets with flyers, flags, signs and orange ribbons, which they tied on trees to remind residents to be sensitive to the issues of violence that ultimately affect everyone.
This year, Zontians went a step further by introducing their “Light the Town Orange” campaign. During Saturday’s event, they distributed orange light bulbs and encouraged members of the public to place the bulbs outside their homes to show neighbours and passersby that their household does not stand for violence against women and girls. Members of the public can also purchase these bulbs at a low cost from Henry F Storr Electric.
Director of the Department of Gender and Family Affairs Dr Jacinta Higgs participated in the live ZNS radio remote promoting the advocacy efforts. She encouraged NGOs to hold events and initiatives with a gender-based focus, as international funds would soon be available to support these efforts, such as the series of events Zonta Bahamas held over the 16 days of activism. There should be events that focus on males and those that focus on females, she said.
The live remote, hosted by CherryLee Pinder and Keshagen Adderley, sought to bring as much information to the public as possible during a two-hour period. Other guests included Leila Green of the Bahamas Crisis Centre, who encouraged women and girls who are facing violence in their home, school or workplace not to hesitate to contact the centre for help. The hotline is still available 24 hours at 322-4999.
Dr Ivy Campbell also participated, sharing a poem in honour of victims, noting that they come from all walks of life and tiers in society. She also announced the launch of her book, “My Escape from Narcissist Hill”, which she hopes will help others in abusive relationships find the strength to leave. Bahamas Prison Fellowship leader Elder David Williams joined in to support for a campaign which he feels is critical in preventing people with poor relationship management skills from ending up in prison.
The “Walk In My Shoes” event was successful and there was food, drink and music throughout the day, and BTC was on-hand with incentives and giveaways. The Urban Renewal Band also entertained the crowd, including residents from the area who came out and showed support.