Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator
Seeking to send a strong message to women that they no longer need to live in fear, and to men committing acts of violence against them that justice will be swift and sure, a new group says it will be taking to the streets to protest.
Citing "shock, shame and sadness at the continuing and escalating rise in extreme acts of violence against women in our country", the Women's Group, under the umbrella of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, has planned a peaceful protest march for tomorrow.
This comes a day before the world observes International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Sunday. The march, to be held under the theme 'Break the Silence and End the Violence', is scheduled for between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., commencing at the church's headquarters at 108 Hagley Park Road in St Andrew and culminating in the Half-Way Tree square.
"We strongly believe that as a church we can no longer continue to say we are praying about it and expect it to go away. We need to do more than just pray, we want to help people break the silence," declared Pastor Rohan Taylor, administrator and director for the Universal Church in Jamaica.
"We need to be the voice to stand up and help women who may be afraid and let them know that they can come forward in order to stop these things."
He added: "We are seeing this violence affecting both women and young girls alike. By the counselling that we have been doing every day with persons in various communities, we find that many are going through these things but they find it hard to come forward."
It was only two months ago that several groups, led by government ministers, took to the streets of Kingston and St Andrew to protest the same issue. Their outrage was sparked by the September 25 rape of five females in St James, including an eight-year-old girl and two teenagers.
Since then, Jamaicans have been horrified by the murder and rape of a number of women. In early October, 23-year-old sales representative Toneva Forbes was raped and killed in Trelawny. Shortly after, postal worker Tandy Lewis' burnt body was found in bushes in Port Royal, Kingston. She was four months pregnant. Later that month, 27-year-old Tenisha Hamilton, who was seven months pregnant, was killed and her body dumped in a water tank in Clarendon. These were just three of several recent cases of brutality against women.
Noting that Saturday's march was open to anyone who wanted to participate, Taylor said he wanted to see a more collaborative approach from all churches to address the serious issue.
"The Women's Group is in solidarity with other organisations in this cause and have issued a desperate call for authorities to address the increasing abuse against women in society, because there is definitely need for greater collaboration among all sectors of society to tackle this escalating situation," said Taylor.