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‘Woman arise!’ - Kencot Christian Fellowship’s International Women’s Conference launched, ready to help battered women

Published:Saturday | May 11, 2019 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer

Come July 27, Jamaican and other Caribbean women who have long endured domestic violence will be empowered at an International Women’s Conference, to be held at Kencot Christian Fellowship, St Andrew.

Themed ‘Woman Arise! Reset’, the event was launched during a special service at the church on Sunday, and it is anticipated that it will attract roughly 600 women from various Caribbean territories, including Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados.

According to convener of the conference, Jenni Campbell, “Some of the troubling issues affecting our women are the issue of domestic violence in homes, parenting, especially as it affects children, some of whom have been killed in recent times. We are very concerned about this as a church community. We believe it is important we bring together as many women as we can to educate and empower them so we can have a different approach to our families and communities.”

A number of local and regional speakers, including Elaine Foster-Allen, former principal of Shortwood Teachers’ College, who was also a permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, will address the conference.

Placing the importance of the conference into context, chairman of the conference’s planning committee, Jackie Geddes, cited statistics from the Women’s Health Survey 2016, which revealed that one in every four Jamaican women experiences domestic violence.

“This is significant because we are at a time where abuse, in my mind, is at an all-time high. There are many murder-suicides taking place, and most are coming out of the levels of abuse that continues in our society. What we are doing is encouraging women to come out and be educated about what abuse is, what to avoid, how to handle it, and how to withdraw from it” she said.

“More than seven per cent of Jamaica’s women experience sexual abuse by male partners. Eighty per cent of abused women did not report this to the police. Forty per cent get no help at all,” Geddes told the gathering.

She continued: “There are several types of abuse: coercion or threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, minimising, denying, and blaming, and there is economic abuse. I encourage you to seek help if your partner belittles you, threatens to hurt or kill you, destroys things that belong to you, puts you down, isolates you from family and friends, stops you from going to college and work, tells you what to wear, who to see and where to go, controls your money.”