Professor Brian Copeland, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal at The UWI St. Augustine Campus. (Image courtesy The UWI)

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal at The UWI St. Augustine Campus, Professor Brian Copeland, has issued a clarion call to the nation, to bring an end to gender-based violence.

And he also has pledged that The UWI will do its part to ensure the required socio-cultural change happens.

In an official statement issued today, Professor Copeland laments the fact two of the University’s graduates had been murdered this year—Andrea Bharatt and Suzette Sylvester—both women, and both of whom had pursued courses from The UWI’s Institute of Gender and Development Studies (IGDS).

“The fact that both women were victims of gender-based violence means that, in spite of all the work done over the decades by the IGDS, as well as the disciplines of The UWI’s Social Sciences like Criminology and Sociology, as well as the Humanities and other areas of study, much more needs to be done to eradicate this scourge that reflects one of the many ways a society can destroy itself or, at best, regress into a primal state,” Professor Copeland observes in the news release.

According to the UWI St Augustine Principal, there several societal problems that manifest themselves in violence or discrimination across biological, ethnic and cultural divides.  He is challenging men in this country to step up and make change happen.

“I call on all citizens—men in particular—to take responsibility for creating and actively maintaining safe spaces for the most vulnerable in our midst. We need to call out and engage those who display disrespect for the women in our society,” he urges, “whether it be—for example, by issuing insulting remarks when their advances are ignored, stalking, or even entertaining songs that promote sexual violence.”

Professor Copeland adds: “There is a social pact that needs to be revisited that must strongly emphasise a level of emotional maturity, tolerance and respect in our nation. This speaks to the role of parents and teachers in nurturing these and other positive characteristics in our citizens from birth.”

The UWI Pro Vice-Chancellor says ending gender-based violence demands transformation at a fundamental level.

“We owe it to Andrea, Suzette, and the many victims of gender-based violence, to drive a radical cultural and attitudinal change in this country,” he states.

“As an institution, we will continue our work to push the boundaries of policy, training and societal change in earnest,” he pledged.