Ag. Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health and Social Development
Telephone: 468-3701 ext. 852 7742
Residents of the British Virgin Islands are encouraged to ‘Step up, Speak out and Seek help’ as indicated by this year’s driving theme for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an international observance geared at creating community awareness of the social and personal impacts of domestic and family violence. The Office of Gender Affairs is working towards this goal in addition to hosting activities that will focus on educating the public about the Domestic Violence Act, 2011 and the Domestic Violence Protocol.
Gender Affairs Coordinator, Ms. Lorolie Connor said the theme of this year’s observation encourages persons to report to the authorities if they or someone they know is involved in an abusive relationship to reduce the risk of additional harm.
“A relationship is something that is intertwined and there are a lot of aspects to be considered, especially if there are children involved. What we do suggest is that you look at the situation from a critical perspective and see if it’s possible to seek counseling if it is not life threatening,” said Ms. Connor.
Regarding the Domestic Violence Act, 2011, she said, “We are safeguarding the next generation and we must be responsible to ensure their well-being.”
The act obligates any person or organisation that deals with or comes into contact with children, or in the course of carrying out his or her profession or duties, to report ill-treatment to the relevant authorities.
Ms. Connor said the office is taking a multi-leveled approach to include all agencies and persons outlined in the legislation.
She said, “We have begun with the churches and their leaders to get their ideas and feedback so that we can work together to prevent or lessen the chances of persons experiencing abuse of any kind. Thereafter, we will be going into the schools and subsequently other agencies in this regard.”
Among the schedule of awareness activities, the Office of Gender Affairs will continue their sensitisation sessions throughout the Territory during the month. On National Purple Day, October 7, persons are asked to showcase national unity and wear purple, the international colour of domestic violence awareness or purchase a ‘Stop the Domestic Violence’ t-shirt. T-shirts will be sold by T-Shirt Genius located upstairs of Supa Valu on Tortola. Interested persons are asked to call 542-4989 to place their orders before October 7. Also on this day, an Informational Happy Hour will take place at Myett’s Chill Zone from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The office will premiere its awareness videos; provide information for the prevention of abuse; as well as offer giveaways and more.
Persons are asked to wear purple again on October 8 for an Awareness Walk in remembrance of Zabrina O’Neal on Virgin Gorda. Supporters are to assemble at 5:45 p.m. for the walk to begin at 6:00 p.m. The route of the walk will be from the H. Lavity Stoutt College towards the Bregado Flax Education Centre Grounds and back to the college. Zabrina O’Neal was a Virgin Gorda native who lost her life in 1999 due to a domestic dispute.
For more information on the Domestic Violence Awareness Activities, or to schedule a sensitisation session for businesses or organisations, persons are asked to telephone the Office of Gender Affairs at 468-2234 or 468-2236 or visit their Facebook page @officeofgenderaffairsVI.