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Call to show solidarity with women

A gathering in Hamilton on Saturday will call for stronger rights for women in Bermuda.

The Women's Action Group will host the event at Queen Elizabeth Park as marches worldwide are set to mark the first anniversary of an international Women's March.

Sylvia Hayward-Harris, a member of the Women's Action Group, said it had organised the event “in honour of what is happening around the world, women who are part of the #MeToo campaign, the #TimesUp campaign and general support, action and advocacy for women”.

She added: “It's to show solidarity of women working together to advance our own issues.”

More than 5 million people around the world were estimated to have taken part in the inaugural Women's March, which focused on better legislation and policies on human rights, including women's rights.

Ms Hayward-Harris said some of the problems faced in Bermuda include lack of education on restraining orders and that the island no longer has a women's refuge.

She added: “We want to be supportive but move this forward because it's not working for women who are in need.”

Ms Hayward-Harris said the women's rights group is also concerned that women's safety when they have to deal with abusive partners is not taken seriously in the courts.

She said: “Women have been told to get over abuse and to make their telephone numbers and addresses available to men who have been abusive to them.

“That doesn't make any sense to anyone who is empathetic to a woman who has been abused.”

She added that sexual harassment remains “endemic” in Bermuda.

Ms Hayward-Harris said: “Women should be able to dress in any way we choose. We don't dress to invite, we dress because we feel this is what looks good on us and we want to please ourselves, not to invite assault.

“That's also part of the education process, changing the perception on this island that whenever something happens to somebody, it is their fault. We are into victim blaming.

“We want to draw attention to these issues. There are some women who will be telling their stories. Some women will be talking about what resources are available. There will be some poetry. There is an anthem called I can't keep quiet.”

She explained that the event will be a gathering, not a march, and emphasised that women, men and children are invited to attend.

Ms Hayward-Harris added that people are asked to wear black in a show of solidarity.

She said: “In the first place, this is a societal problem; it's not just women. When women are not respected, that impacts all of us.

“That impacts our children, our loved ones, our husbands, our brothers, our fathers. And women are not the only ones who are assaulted, there are quite a few men as well.

“We know that there are things to be changed and there's education that is needed in this community.”

The free event will run between noon and 3pm. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/2mGOCdL.

Sylvia Hayward-Harris

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Published January 18, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated January 18, 2018 at 8:29 am)

Call to show solidarity with women

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