By Aaron Humes: The National Women’s Commission (NWC), the advisory body of the Government of Belize on gender equality, equity, and women’s empowerment has called for efforts to reduce stigma on the issue of gender-based violence, after a series of violent incidents including the murder of Tracy Thompson.
In registering its “outrage” and condemnation, the Commission notes that worldwide, one in every three women are across their lifetime subject to physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence from a non-partner, a total of 736 million, a state of affairs that it says “remains devastatingly persistent and starts alarmingly young.”
The Commission repeats that Belize must exercise a zero-tolerance approach to violence against women in the light of the Belem Do Para Convention on Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women signed in 1996. Violence against women is defined by the Convention as “any act or conduct, based on gender, which causes death or physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, whether in the public or the private sphere.”
For its part, the Commission promises to increase awareness and educational campaigns on how to get help; publicize the Gender-based Referral Pathway for GBV frontline responders which facilitates primary duty bearers and specialized actors with information on how to respond to GBV incidents, guide the survivors of GBV around the range of services that are available for them across the country, and supports in conducting survivor-centered referrals; support coordination among service providers to meet the needs of survivors and advocate for survivor’s access to services, monitor service delivery, and follow up with survivors, through the GBV case management process; and continue an educational intervention program to challenge discriminatory attitudes and beliefs.