Gender Affairs, US Embassy Collaborate to Promote Domestic Violence Sensitisation

As part of the effort, a one day conference was held today (26th May) to sensitise frontline workers including representatives from the police force, guidance counsellors attached to the education department as well as the ministry of social development and a representative of the St. Kitts Nevis Media Association under the theme “Creating a Healing Environment for Addressing Violence”.

As a precursor to that event, however, a press conference was held at the Royal St. Kitts Marriott during which presentations were made by son of the soil and Director of Training at Atlanta-based organisation, “Men Stopping Violence”, Ulesta Douglas, as well as Mrs. Celia Christopher, Gender Field Officer attached to the Department of Gender Affairs and Public Affairs Officer to the US Embassy, Rebecca Ross.

The programme – according to Mr. Douglas – recognises that many forms of domestic violence exist but focuses on violence against women and curbing such practices.

He explained that often enough, the temptation is to punish those who are guilty of these acts without endeavouring to get to the root of the problem which lies deep within the fabric of the communities.

“So if it’s not a problem with individual men, what is it? It’s a community problem, it’s a cultural problem. There are things that have happened…certainly here in St. Kitts Nevis in the culture that we believe encourages violence against women. For example…if you look at what we consider the most dominant narrative of instructions about masculinity, what it means to be a man, it is a very destructive one and its one that most men subscribe to and in that definition, some of the tenants include…a real man controls his woman, he gets sex at will with as many women as possible… Of course the women in his life can’t have as many men as possible, that’s the double standard. But he is seen positively with as many women as possible and he can do whatever he wants with ‘his woman’ and community folk usually know what’s going on and stand silently…

“And the list goes on and on and on and when we look at this dominant description of what it means to be a man, it is not surprising to us at Men Stopping Violence that we are experiencing the challenges we are talking about when it comes to intimate partner violence because its preparation as far as we are concerned to go to war. And if men are not going to Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever else, it’s the home, it’s in the living room, the bathroom, the yard, that he exercises that preparation about what it means to be a man, often on the bodies of women, sexually, physically and otherwise.”

Mr. Douglas expressed that the solutions to these problems must be reached at the community level.

“So we see the solutions lying in communities. We can organise as communities to send very strong unequivocal messages that this crime is unacceptable and will not be tolerated…We’ve got to have a cultural shift that says it is my business, it’s everybody’s business and when I see it, know of it, I’m going to do something about it.”

These and other related issues, understands, were to be at the heart of today’s discussion which were facilitated by Mrs. Mary Thompson, a nurse and volunteer in Barbados who will be.


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