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Students Urged to Help End Gender-based Violence

For Release Upon Receipt - Monday, March 16, 2020

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Local students are being encouraged to join the efforts to end gender-based violence

“The world’s most critical and urgent voices at this moment are those of young people,” said lecturer in gender studies Dr. Tonya Haynes at a recent workshop on dating violence and youth. “If we are to transform the world, you must take the lead.”

She was speaking at It’s Gender We Talking, a workshop for youth held on December 10, 2019. Over 30 teenagers convened for frank conversations on consent and the use of technology in intimate relationships. The workshop was a joint initiative between the Institute for Gender and Development Studies: Nita Barrow Unit and the Bureau for Gender Affairs, and formed part of an IGDS:NBU Gender-Based Violence awareness project which was funded by the British High Commission in Bridgetown.

The lecturer informed participants that the Caribbean held three of the top 10 recorded rates of rape, with Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago all having rates of reported rape which are higher than the world average.

“In nine Caribbean countries, 48 percent of adolescent girls’ first sexual experience was ‘forced’ or ‘somewhat forced’. Intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child sexual abuse and other forms of gender-based violence are daily occurrences in Barbados [and] the majority of this violence goes unreported and unaddressed.”

Senior students from six secondary schools: The Alleyne School, The Combermere School, Parkinson Memorial, St. Leonard’s Boys’ School, The Lester Vaughan Memorial School and The Ellerslie Secondary School, participated in the day’s events. They benefitted from a robust discussion on the use of the phone as a tool of coercion in relationships, gendered roles and expectations in intimate partnerships, as well as consent and healthy relationships. In addition, they created their own anti-violence awareness campaigns through song, poetry and drama.

The day’s activities were rooted in a short film, titled Passwords, which was created for the activity under the guidance of the IGDS:NBU. The film centred on an argument between a couple over access to each other’s phones. The script was written by Matthew Murrell and featured Cave Hill graduate Karissa Harte and current enrollee Triston Gollop.

“It is our intention that [the short film] will serve as a teaching tool on how unequal relations of gender drive intimate partner violence and forms of surveillance and coercive control in our media-saturated, hyper-connected times...,” Dr. Haynes noted in her remarks. “Your active participation and commitment to putting in practice the knowledge and skills you will learn here today are key to ensuring a gender-just future.”

Haynes added that the workshop was part of an established tradition of coordination between the University, government entities and non-governmental organisations, especially during 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (celebrated annually from November 25 to December 10) to bring awareness to the issue.

British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Her Excellency Mrs. Janet Douglas, said the High Commission was pleased to support events of this nature, and also urged the students gathered to play their part in stamping out violence in their schools and communities.

“You will be taking part in a workshop to talk about the issues the film raises, but also about how do you go back into your schools and spread the message to your friends that it is not okay to hit someone; it is not okay to abuse your partner; it is not okay for you to sit and watch someone else abuse your friend or even someone you don’t like – it is just not okay – it is never okay,” she said.


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