Wife of Deputy Prime Minister – Ann Davis – presents at ZONTA’s National Women’s Week

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Mrs. Ann Davis - wife of Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis - Nassau Guardian Photo.

In light of National Women’s Week, the Zonta Club kicked off the week in Rawson Square. Zonta Clubs of The Bahamas in collaboration with Zonta International, The Bureau of Women Affairs and The Crisis Centre joined the Global voice o f saying “NO! to Violence Against Women and Children.

The following are remarks by Mrs. Ann Marie Davis (wife of the Deputy Prime Minister of The Bahamas) at the launch held at Rawson Square, Nassau on November 25th:

I am deeply honoured by the invitation extended to me to address you this morning and I stand here today to JOIN THE GLOBAL, EMPHATIC NO !!! To End Violence Against Women and Girls!!!!!

Every day, the image of a child being abused for someone’s pornographic pleasure is added to the terrible list of crimes against humanity.

Each day, more and more women are enslaved in prostitution by criminals who exploit their pain and suffering resulting from a lack of opportunity where they live.

Each day, we are able to read of these crimes and to hear about them, however, we feel that this criminal activity does not happen here. Just recently we heard about the horror of women having been kidnapped for several years and forced to have sexual relations with their abductor. In England!! A first class country at that !!!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, “Worldwide, there are more than thirty million people living in slavery, yes, you heard correctly – THIRTY MILLION”. A large part of these people who are enslaved are women and children and specifically girls who are forced from their homes by many means and held at the whim of criminals who abuse them for profit.

Does this happen here? We need to find out and we need to rescue any child who might be held in such an arrangement.

Focusing here at home, in the Bahamas, abuse/violence against women and girls take many forms including, sexual harassment, rape, incest, psychological violence (oh yes!!! These are mind games that stress you out!!!), financial violence (withholding money from the spouse for basic needs), and stalking!! We’ve seen recently the results of stalking – violence taking the lives of women and their children. How Very Sad!!!!! Well, We say NO MORE!!!!! To add to what Dr. Sandra Dean Patterson said, I would like to say a few words of encouragement/advice as follows:

To Our Government:
Let’s see improvement in legislation, punishing violent crimes with severity, even with compensation. Let us see an active court dedicated to dealing with violence and abuse against women and children and see their cases heard in a timely manner and regularly. More than 1,200 cases of violent crimes against women need its own support system. There should be an improvement in Emergency Protective Laws to stop certain conducts. E.g. swiftly issuing protective/restrictive orders against perpetrators to discourage them from entering their victim’s homes and harming them sometimes fatally!

To The Police:
Please!! Identify a Task Force within the Royal Bahamas Police Force consisting of male and female officers to respond to calls of violent situations and deal with them there and then. The Police should be sensitized and trained to handle these situations on hand. They need to investigate and we want to see quick resolutions. The perpetrator should be removed from the situation at all times! And Police, I say to you – DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS NOT A PARTNERS’ PROBLEM! IT IS A NATIONS’ PROBLEM!

To The Politicians:
We would like to see to you lobby to include the eradication of violence against women and children in your political programmes. Have education programmes for women and men within your constituencies to discourage all forms of violence.

To The Parents:
Promote good attitudes and good behavior in you homes, as these qualities are shaped very early in children. Pay attention to what your children are doing and where they are. Do not try to be friends, but parents.

To The Nation!! To All of Us:
We need to stop turning a blind eye to the sex trade in our society, we need to pay attention, to be nosey and report all situations of abuse and violence to the police or professionals e.g. we have hotlines to the Crisis Centre set up to call. We have to stop knowing about violence and abuse and not saying or doing anything. Yes, let’s go back to being our sisters’ keeper!!! We need to live by the Christian principles we publicly espouse.

We need to free ourselves and we need to actively be about the work of freeing our sisters, young and old, from their enforced service to the criminal element.

Yes, it is a painful thought; but it is, none the less, real. We have pain and suffering here and we are bound to find the means to ease this pain as directed by our Christian God.

We really have no choice in the matter. Having put ourselves at the forefront, we are bound to act.

This campaign, “ZONTA SAYS NO” is part and parcel of how we act. We must live the fight. It must become an integral part of what we do as citizens. I repeat, we must free ourselves from the tendency to turn a blind eye.

Confront evil wherever it is and, thereby, help free others who are enslaved.

Zontians, far and wide, are to be congratulated for their ongoing campaign to assist women in need. We all join with this wonderful group of women to better serve our communities and our country.

Thank you and May God Bless your important social work!

More on the Campaign:

The Zonta International Public Relations & Communications Committee is pleased to announce the launch of “Zonta Says  NO” – a Zonta International campaign to raise awareness of and increase actions to end violence against women and girls around the world.  The campaign, which began in November 2012 and will continue through December 2013, will feature the service and advocacy actions of Zonta clubs and districts to prevent and end violence against women and girls in their local communities.  It will also highlight Zonta International’s ongoing efforts to end violence against women and girls through the Zonta International Strategies to End Violence against Women (ZISVAW) program and through Zonta’s partnerships with the United Nations and its agencies.

Zonta Says NO has two phases.  Building off the 2012 16 Days of Activism and the theme of the 2013 CSW – elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls – the Zonta Says NO campaign invites all Zonta clubs and districts to participate by sharing their new and ongoing actions to end violence against women and girls between now and November 2013.  These actions will be featured on a special Zonta Says NO campaign web page and official social media pages. The second phase will feature one common action by Zonta clubs and districts around the world in November 2013 to illustrate the collective commitment of Zonta’s nearly 30,000 members to preventing and ending violence against women and girls.

Please join us!  To learn more about Zonta Says NO, please visit the Zonta Says NO website.