Jr. Minister Brandy-Williams addresses issue of gender based violence

NIA — The following is a statement by Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams, Junior Minister in the Premier’s Ministry with responsibility for Health and Gender Affairs on the issue of gender based violence.

As Minister of Health and Gender Affairs, it is my sad duty to address you on an incident that took place at the Charlestown Secondary School on Thursday that is the subject of exceedingly disturbing video circulating widely in Nevis during the last 24 hours.

In the video, two male students can be seen violently battering a female student on the school grounds. The beating lasts several minutes before security officers were able to intervene.

The use of violence as a means of settling any dispute whether amongst adults or children is absolutely unacceptable and cause me and my cabinet colleagues, and we believe, every right thinking adult, overwhelming concern.

The use of such violence against a female is even more disturbing and particularly so when such abuse is perpetrated by her peers.

The classroom and schoolyard ought to be a fear-free zones, places where children can interact in complete safety, secure in the knowledge that they are in an environment that is supportive and not threatening.

It is deeply regrettable that the incident has happened at a time when violence against women and girls has been seemingly on the increase both here in Nevis and in the Federation as a whole.

Only Thursday, two women were brutally murdered in St. Kitts. Our nation ought not to become so accustomed to these horrific events that we appear to be immune to their impact on our communities. We are all responsible.

As with issues relating to security, we are all encouraged to “say something” if we “see something.” The fact that young boys could be so motivated to violence, speaks very poorly of the domestic environment to which they are exposed. Certainly, such behaviour is not learned in the classroom.

As neighbours, if wives, mothers or children are being physically abused, we are all encouraged to alert the relevant agencies: the police, social services or indeed the Gender Affairs Division. Such abusive violence is not generally spontaneous, it is learned behaviour.

We need in all our homes to guard against teaching whether directly or inadvertently that such violence is tolerable or acceptable in any way.

In particular we should be emphasising the role of women as principal nurturers and care-givers of our families and the importance of honouring and revering our women and girls who should be treated at all times with respect.

The police are investigating the matter and the victim is receiving medical attention and support. My colleagues have spoken with the victim’s parents and stand ready to assist and intervene to the fullest extent of our authority. Let us all be our brothers’ keeper.

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