16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence begins tomorrow, Wednesday, and the primary theme of the 2015 campaign is education on the issue. Beginning tomorrow morning in Belize City, attorneys will be offering first-come, first-served legal consultations to women in all municipalities and some far-flung villages on gender-based violence and family issues including domestic violence and issues of divorce and child custody. We hear more from the Women’s Department’s Human Development Coordinator, Cynthia Williams.
Cynthia Williams, Women’s Department Coordinator: So those clinics are like you said primarily for women yes because women continue to be the main victims of gender based violence and so it’s really an opportunity for those who may need legal assistance, and attorneys will be there to provide a free consultation during of these clinics. In the area of Trio and San Esedru, we wanted to do it a bit different, not only provide an opportunity for free legal advice but also training, a workshop for community members in those communities in the area of DV, in the area of Gender Based Violence and of course a bit of parenting as well. So those 2 areas will be a bit more than just the legal clinic because it’s really an opportunity for us to be within those communities and to provide other type of services that otherwise would not be provided.
While only police can take official complaints, Williams notes that some attorneys have taken on pro bono cases as a result of the initiative. It offers the Department an opportunity to extend its services in otherwise hard-to-reach places. However, the Department is still looking for some attorneys to conduct workshops in the Placencia/Independence area. Contact the Department at 227-3888. Meanwhile, the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) began a series of workshops on gender-based violence targeted at youth, starting this morning with an unusual population: barbers and beauticians. Board member and volunteer speaker Shellon Nunez tells us why they chose this group to begin their workshops.
Shellon Nunez, YWCA Volunteer: Well we have had programs for barbers and beauticians and we thought specifically this program would be important for barbers and beauticians because of the dissemination of the information and we targeted them because we’re hoping that when we give them the information, they can be able to disseminate the information in their salons. If you know you go to hairdresser there is a lot of conversation, you go to the barber, anything you want to know they like to say, you need to go to a hairdresser and you will hear it. And so we’re hoping that we can target that population so that the information can be spread.
Subsequent workshops will take place starting this afternoon with YWCA tutoring students under the CASA program, and the organization travels to Belmopan and Toledo in the coming days as well for Southside Belize City. This is the 24th year of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, initiated in 1991 and coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership.