Chanel Schmidt (left) and Sergina Bryson performing on stage during the Stop Domestic Violence Against Women programme.
ST. EUSTATIUS–St. Eustatius Historical Foundation’s Simon Doncker Club held a Stop Domestic Violence Against Women programme at Gwendoline van Putten School on Wednesday evening.
St. Eustatius Historical Foundation’s Simon Doncker Club director Misha Spanner performing. The text on her T-shirt reads “Doing Nothing Isn’t an Option.”
The event only catered to 50 persons due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The event was almost not a reality, but we worked hard on very short notice to have it still go ahead,” said Simon Doncker Club director Misha Spanner.
Mistress of ceremonies Charmaine George said the event was held to bring awareness, share knowledge and continue to work together to save and protect domestic violence victims’ lives.
Deputy Government Commissioner Alida Francis said St. Eustatius is experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide statistics and data show that violence against women and girls has risen even more, and in some countries the rising statistics are staggering.
No extensive study has been carried out to see whether there is also a rise in domestic violence due to the pandemic in Statia. “Violence against women and girls is often hidden behind walls and the victims usually feel trapped because of cultural stigma and fear,” Francis said.
Statia’s plan of attack against domestic violence has focused on funding, response, prevention and intervention in a combined effort to ensure that victims are helped when they reach out.
“We do have a strong foundation in place that can help us to eliminate violence against women and girls,” Francis stated. The foundation is funded by the local and central governments.
Annually the island’s “social domain” in collaboration with all the stakeholders, including social workers and law enforcement, are “working diligently” through Dare2Care to increase awareness of domestic violence. Posters of prominent Statians are erected in different languages throughout the island with messages of hope to victims, encouraging them to seek help.
Francis said there is a safehouse and other locations that cannot be openly disclosed to protect victims.
“We are not completely there yet, but the fact that we will continue to keep this topic at the forefront shows that we care,” Francis said.
The night’s focus was on violence against women and girls, but she said this did not mean to diminish the fact that men and boys can also be victims of domestic violence and help is available to all victims of violence.
Francis encouraged victims to not remain hidden in the shadows, to not be afraid, and to step forward to make use of all the available services, including experts from abroad in case of extreme violence.
Policy coordinator for Domestic Violence and Children’s Rights Dirkje de Jong, who is also a member of Dare2Care, said the event was held to bring awareness because there are still too many women, men and children in domestic-violence situations. She said that because people put on a happy face when they are in public, no one really knows what is going on when those people go home at the end of the day.
Dare2Care started when the public entity St. Eustatius signed an agreement with the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport VWS for funding to raise awareness about domestic violence.
This was “really” necessary, De Jong said, because domestic violence was a very taboo subject on the island. “We didn’t speak about it, we didn’t mention it, did not inform anyone that they had a problem at home. When you saw someone with bruises, the excuse would be that he or she tripped, or hit the door, and that was it,” she said. “Now, people feel more confident to speak out and reach out for help and support because it is there.”
Dare2Care is a cooperation between the public entity, the Social Work Department, Mega D. Youth Foundation, Centre for Youth and Family, Expertise Center for Education, the Caribbean Netherlands Police Force and others.
De Jong said that also in the Netherlands the focus has primarily been on the victims of domestic violence and not enough on the perpetrators. Dare2Care is planning to change this, as it will speak with both the victims and perpetrators of domestic violence in the first 24 hours after a report has been received by the police.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/dare2care-wants-to-stop-domestic-violence-in-statia