The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of I-Witness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].
March 23, 2015, will go down in Vincentian history as the day, a prominent figure in leadership within St. Vincent and the Grenadines provided a platform for women in the country to reclaim their voices and speak out about the heinous rapes and violence that are being committed against them and their daughters. As the president of Save Our Sisters, (SOS), Inc., an organization that was newly established with the purpose of helping to reduce violence against women in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, I would like to applaud Mr. Arnhim Eustace for having the courage and the interest in moving this issue to the national and international forefront.
There are those who will question Mr. Eustace’s motivation in saying that he is not genuine and he only did it for political expediency. I would like to say to these individual, as an almost rape victim and a past victim of domestic violence that, I don’t particularly care about Mr. Eustace’s motive. My sole concern is that the issue is now on the front burner and it finally receiving some well-deserved attention. I would like to believe that the women and children that are currently living in a literal hell from being raped and violently abused will support me in this regard. Women in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have been suffering for what seems like an eternity and people like myself have been screaming regularly like a banshee, but all of our screaming have been falling on deaf ears as far as those in leadership are concerned.
Many adopt a “don’t care attitude” towards the rape and violence that women have been experiencing in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Some even blame the victims for being raped. They lecture women about the clothing that they wear as if women’s clothing is a rape invitation. The most painful thing is to hear teachers, who teach our young girls verbalising these sentiments. A teacher has even accused me of “destroying and tearing down” Vincy by highlighting these atrocities that are being committed against my sisters and their daughters in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is important that we teach these teachers that rape is a crime and that women are not to be blamed for being raped. Do we blame the murder victim for being murdered? No, we don’t. It is time for us as a people to stop stigmatising and blaming rape victims and treat the perpetrators as the criminals that they are rather than macho heroes.
I may not support Mr. Eustace on all of his agenda, but I am grateful to him for opening the door to the start a national and international conversation on this issue. It is only through education and counselling that we are going to be able to bring healing to these victims. This is no time for criticising or questioning Mr. Eustace’s motives. It is time for all others who care about women and women’s issues to tell us about their plans to remedy the situation. Mr. Eustace has started the dialogue. He has thrown his cards on the table. Now, is the time for others to do likewise and tell us exactly how they plan to reduce this epidemic of rape, incest, and domestic violence that is destroying our nation.
Helena R. Edward
Save Our Sisters (SOS) Inc.
Email: [email protected]
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].