As the world marked International Women’s Day yesterday, Woodford Square in Port-of-Spain was notably absent of women’s groups who failed to turn out in their numbers to voice their concerns about the violence perpetuated against women and girls.
This was the concern of Jamaat-al-Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr as he led a group of women and children from the Jamaat on a march through the capital yesterday.
The march took place down Frederick Street then to Independence Square, onto Duncan Street, on to Duke Street and back to Woodford Square.
On the growing increase of violence perpetuated against women, some of which has resulted in murders, Bakr said, “It was expected that today (yesterday), being International Women’s Day, that we would have seen an enormous number of women coming out and making a statement....and we are not seeing that.
“But that has not deterred us,” Bakr said.
He also lamented that within recent times a number of school children had also gone missing, adding that this was another worrying concern.
Several pupils, both boys and girls from the Jamaat’s Primary School, led yesterday’s march. Bearing placards they chanted, “Abuse has no excuse,” “No violence,” “Protect our women” and “Real man don’t use violence.”
Saying it was important to teach children about non-violence from an early age, Bakr added, “We brought the children to make a statement. We start to teach them be careful of the cars they take when travelling, to be careful with strangers and things like that.
“But more than anything is to give them the awareness and let them understand that violence against women is unacceptable in every form, whether it be hitting, shoving, pulling or biting....there is no excuse for violence against women,” Bakr said.
He said instead of protecting women men were abusing and in some cases killing women. “Nobody can justifiably give me an excuse for being violence towards a woman. Even if you get a horn walk away,” Bakr added.
He said a woman’s relationship with a man was voluntary and hence she had the option to leave anytime she wanted.
“She is not bound to stay in a relationship if it is not working and nobody could justify that they love their wife to the extent that they need to kill them,” Bakr added.
Bakr’s wife, Fatima, one of the co-ordinators of the march, said it was sad that women were being abused not only physically but mentally as well. “Men personally need to buck up when it comes to how they treat and respect women. And not just young people, elderly people also. So while it is about women it is a man’s thing as well and more so because they are the ones who are supposed to protect us,” Fatima said.
She said International Women’s Day was losing its importance and becoming “commercialised” as more effort could be placed into the event.
source: www.guardian.co.tt (Geisha Kowlessar)