Today is the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The campaign aims to prevent and eliminate violence against women around the world calling for global action to increase awareness, promote advocacy and create opportunities for discussion on challenges and solutions.
Throughout the years our community has seen the devastating results when these victims of domestic abuse aren’t able to reach out for support. I cannot emphasise enough—Bermuda has resources available. The Centre Against Abuse is a phenomenal organisation providing counseling services, court advocacy, a 24-hour hotline, safe housing and liaison with police and other agencies.
In Bermuda, and most recently with the Covid-19 pandemic, the Centre Against Abuse has noticed a sharp increase in the number of domestic abuse reports.
Nearly one in three women have been abused in their lifetime with fewer than 40% seeking help of any sort. Domestic abuse is currently the number one call-out reason for our Police Service.
However, not enough is being done from a Government and community standpoint to support their efforts. Bermuda is the only UK Overseas Territory that does not have a Gender Affairs Office focusing on Women’s Rights and Domestic Abuse.
While we have signed on to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Gender Affairs Office is a key component of ensuring the provisions of the convention are put into practice. A Gender Affairs Office would track relevant data and promote gender equality and equity.
The One Bermuda Alliance supports the goals of the Centre Against Abuse and believes more should be done to support our vulnerable and implement the Gender Affairs Office in Bermuda. There should also be a combination and coordination of qualified legal services, direct support, community interaction, training, and partnerships with the aim of providing practical and emotional support to advance the well-being of our community.
The One Bermuda Alliance sends our heartfelt sympathies to all victims of domestic violence in our community and urge those living with an abuser to reach out to all helping agencies or to trusted friends and family.
We must stand together as a community to change the narrative and take the stigma and shame away from domestic violence and send the message that violence against women cannot and will not be tolerated.
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