Bridgetown, Barbados, 25 November 2020 - Staff at the PAHO/WHO Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries joined the global movement in support of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This year’s theme is “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!” with a specific focus on COVID-19. Like in previous years, this year's International Day also marked the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Base Violence, that will conclude on 10 December 2020, which is International Human Rights Day.
As people are asked to stay at home, as part of the measures introduced to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, reports of partner and domestic violence are on the rise in the already existing pandemic of violence against women. Anguilla, for example, noted an increase of 88% in cases.
Globally, 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. In the Caribbean, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Crime Trends Survey (CTS) based on police statistics, three of the top ten recorded rape rates in the world occur in the Caribbean. In addition, all countries in the Caribbean for which comparable data are available (Bahamas, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Jamaica, St. Kitts/Nevis, Dominica, Barbados, and Trinidad & Tobago) experienced a rate of rape above the unweighted average of the 102 countries in the CTS.
Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, with support from PAHO have developed a campaign targeting policy makers, service providers, community, and women. It includes airing of nationally developed videos with messages delivered by Ministers and other stakeholder, displaying of posters, sharing social media cards, media briefing, panel discussions, radio and TV programs, training of crisis hotline advocates, national Virgil and Candle Lighting, Religious Sermonettes, Discussion with Persons with Disabilities, among other activities. Barbados is doing a silent March on Tuesday 8th December in Broad Street.
Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations; it undermines the health, dignity, security, and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence. There is never any excuse for violence, and I encourage you to act if you are a victim or know of a case. #OrangeTheWorld #endVAW