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News : New Providence Last Updated: Feb 13, 2017 - 1:45:37 AM

Zonta Says No to Violence Against Women
By Felicity Ingraham
Nov 25, 2016 - 10:45:45 AM

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Zontians and school of nursing students celebrate 16 days of activism in Parliament Square (Photo: Felicity Ingraham)

Nassau, Bahamas - Friday, November 25, 2015 is being celebrated around the world as the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It also marks the beginning of the global 16 days of activism, which wraps up on December 10, Human Rights Day. The UN Secretary General's campaign UNiTE to End Violence Against Women call for action is themed: "Orange the World: Raise Money to End Violence Against Women and Girls"

The Zonta Clubs of Nassau and New Providence teamed up to participate by hosting a "Paint the Town Orange" campaign and held a special forum at the School of Nursing, Grosvenor Close. Zontians and students took to the streets Thursday tying bright orange ribbons all over Bay Street and Collins Avenue. They also engaged with passers-by, motorists, shop owners and patrons along the way as they tied the ribbons. They also held a fun mannequin challenge in Rawson Square to bring awareness to the cause.

The Forum was opened by Minister of Social Services and Community Development, Melanie Griffin, who noted that these are worthy efforts held during a most significant week in The Bahamas - National Women's Week. Her Ministry's Department of Gender and Family Affairs is hosting a series of events to honour National Women's Week and the Women's Suffrage Movement. It was on November 26, 1962 that women in the Bahamas were successful in earning the right to cast their votes in the general elections.

Minister of Social Services and Community Development Melanie Griffin signs the board with uplifting messages for women and victims of violence. (Photo: Felicity Ingraham)

Zontian Nina Maynard pointed out that the Women's Suffrage Movement did more than just secure the right for women to vote. The trail blazing women who led that movement, she said, were also instrumental in bringing about the "one man, one vote" that allowed men to vote without having property, as was the previous requirement, and these women also played integral roles in the struggle towards gaining Independence.

Zonta clubs brought together authorities on the subject of women and violence to bring to bear the current situation of women in the Bahamas and ways to improve their plight. Forum speakers included: Eartha Charlow and Leslie Taylor from the Department of Social Services; Nanika Brathwaite from the Ministry of Health; Karen Rigby, Chairperson of the Trafficking in Persons Committee; Eucal Bonaby of the Attorney General's Office who brought along with him the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention and Suppression) Act; and Antionia Roberts, a Counsellor at the Crisis Centre.

With UN statistics pegging the Bahamas at highest in the world of rape per capita, Roberts implored all Bahamians to find more peaceful ways of conflict resolution to help decrease the alarming rates of crime and violence in the country. She noted that studies conducted by the Crisis Center show that Bahamian school students are also victims of physical and non-physical violence, and that more efforts should be made to shift the culture away from negative behaviour towards attitudes of respect that would help to create a better society.

Eartha Charlow, Department of Social Services, addresses the forum (Photo: Felicity Ingraham)

Bonaby noted that trafficking in persons (considered a form of modern-day slavery) is happening right in our neighbourhoods and more awareness needs to be raised to help stem the tide of these rising cases in the Bahamas. He noted that there is protection for victims via the Ministry of Social Services, and prosecution for violators through the law.

Marisa Mason-Smith prayed for the women of the Bahamas and for peace upon the nation as they begin their efforts towards 16 days of activism in The Bahamas. Fourth-year University of The Bahamas nursing students presented their research proposal entitled: "Factors Influencing Intimate Partner Violence among Urban Bahamians".

Tonya Galanis and Ruthann Rolle presided over the forum and called on all attendees to do their individual part to bring awareness that would lead to the elimination of violence against women in their homes and communities.

Speaking bottom right is Ayla Antonia Roberts, Crisis Centre Counsellor (Photos: Felicity Ingraham)

School of nursing students did a mannequin challenge in Parliament Square to bring awareness (Photo: Felicity Ingraham)

Orange ribbons were tied along Bay Street and Collins avenue in the "Paint the Town Orange" event (Photo: Felicity Ingraham)

Speaking bottom right is Eucal Bonaby, Attorney General's Office (Photos: Felicity Ingraham)

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