Sunday, April 14, 2024

NGOs condemn Domestic and Sexual Violence against Women and Children and calls for collective response to break the vicious cycle

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Recent news reports support what, as a society, we already know: far too many women and children are victims of domestic and sexual violence. The Belize Network of Non-Governmental Organizations joins in the condemnation of these acts. Fully cognizant that no one entity can grapple with the various aspects related to domestic and sexual violence, the BNN publicly commits itself to participating in a renewed collective response to identify targeted actions to address these issues.
In February 2022, the Government of Belize tabled the Domestic Violence in Belize Motion which underscored that an “effective response to Domestic Violence requires a multi-sectoral approach to ensure prevention, protection, and provision of services for survivors and successful prosecution of perpetrators.” Within that context, the BNN has reached out to the Ministry of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs to reiterate our willingness to participate in more proactive working methods, more efficient legal proceedings, and better coordination of public authorities’ interventions. Several members of the BNN are currently working on the front lines across Belize in ongoing efforts to address domestic and sexual abuse.
The associated statistics are staggering. As reported by the Belize Crime Observatory, during January to November 2021, there were 2,155 reports of Domestic Violence to the police; 78% of these reports were made by females and 32% of these cases are open cases. Moreover, there was a 13% increase in the number of domestic violence reports documented by the Belize Police Department for the period January 2022 to March 2022, as compared to the same period in 2021. With the reopening of schools, officials are already sounding the alarm that we should be expecting a surge of reports to be made via the education system. “Our members stand ready to pool resources to ensure that we break the vicious cycle of silence and shaming that has hindered our ability to address these issues in our society for generations,” says Chair Andre Carrillo. “We are confident that together we can play a meaningful role in helping to make sure abusers are brought to justice, victims are supported in their recovery and that measures are put in place in an attempt to deter future attacks.”
“Nationally, we should all be talking about this as a crisis; because it is just that,” says NGO Senator Janelle Chanona. “Collectively we can all be doing something to make sure that all victims of domestic and sexual abuse have both the confidence and ease of access to the mechanisms to make reports, obtain refuge and seek justice. We also all have the responsibility to report incidents we become aware of to the relevant authorities for further investigation.”

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