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Violence against women to come under the spotlight

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Kayla Williams, the assistant to the executive director at Government House (Photograph supplied)
Dany Pen, the founder of Women's A.C.T. and the executive director of Raleigh Bermuda (Photograph supplied)

Teenagers will talk about the importance of self-worth to young women as part of a worldwide event to end domestic violence later this month.

They will take part in a panel discussion to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25.

Kayla Williams, an assistant to Crystal Swan, the executive officer at Government House – where the talk will be held – said the event was organised after observance of the day at a networking event last year.

She added that Ms Swan and a “group of core individuals … came up with an initiative that they wanted to carry forward to support women who were victims of abuse”.

Ms Williams said: “It grew and grew over the past couple of months into what is now known as Hive Bermuda, which stands for Healing Individuals from Violence and Emotional Abuse.”

She said that organisations such as Pathways Bermuda, Safe Space Bermuda and the Women’s Resource Centre worked together to help survivors of abuse.

Hive is a network of individuals and groups with the motto “together we conquer abuse”.

Its website is expected to be launched on the same day as the talk, which will be followed by a reception.

The panel will be made up of young women aged 16 to 18 and will be moderated by Maya Palacio, the journalist behind Media Maya.

Ms Williams said: “We really wanted to have school age girls because we feel like it sort of starts there.

“It’s crucial to have a conversation about what healthy relationships look like, what’s good and what’s not and their self-value.”

The theme of the talk is “How do we instil self-value in our young women?”

Ms Williams added: “If we establish that from an early age it’s more likely that we can prevent violence against women later on.”

Dany Pen, the founder of Women’s Action Change Today and the executive director at youth development charity Raleigh Bermuda, is coaching the young women before the event.

She said she planned to help them become “effective communicators in conveying their opinions and voices in this matter and … to build self-confidence”.

Ms Pen added: “It gives them a platform to have a voice.

“To have young women be able to have such support from the community sends a huge message that they’re valued, they’re appreciated and that they’re heard.”

Ms Palacio said she accepted the invitation to take part because she cared about women and “more specifically what majority black women are facing on this island”.

She added: “There has been an increase in violence against women during this year, during the pandemic.”

Ms Palacio highlighted the disappearance of Chavelle Dillon-Burgess, who was reported missing on April 30 and has still to be traced.

Police are treating the case as a murder investigation.

She added that 31 year-old Garrina Cann was shot dead in September.

Ms Palacio said: “In June, a 32 year-old mother was attacked with a machete. All black women.

“Majority black women are unprotected and do not feel safe. I hope this discussion helps young women to at least identify red flags in any form of relationship.

“I’m not an expert on what to do when people are violent against women. I’m moderating out of experience and I can relate in age to the chosen panel."

She added: “I think these discussions are important because I can recall a time when I was much younger and these conversations came up and I didn’t think I needed to listen.

“I was wrong and I wish I had tuned in.”

A limited number of women will form the audience at the talk, which is scheduled to run from 4pm until 5.30pm on November 25, and will be recorded.

*To attend the discussion, e-mail cjswan@gov.bm.

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Published November 13, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated November 12, 2020 at 3:26 pm)

Violence against women to come under the spotlight

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