Tuesday 21 January, 2020

Frustrated! NOW upping its response to violence against women in 2020

- by Daveny Ellis

"[We are] Frustrated with the lack of political will with the issue of domestic violence."

Those are the words of President of the National Organisation of Women (NOW), Marsha Hinds-Layne. She was at the time outlining the vision for the organization going into 2020.

Hinds-Layne in an interview with Loop News said that NOW will work in 2020 to improve the services offered to women who are victims of abuse and domestic violence in the country.

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Noting that there are indeed large gaps in terms of services offered to women when it comes to intimate partner violence in Barbados, NOW believes this is especially highlighted by how our judiciary handles these cases.

"There's a serious need to change the cultures and attitudes with the judiciary when it comes to intimate partner violence. So with that in mind, NOW will continue to do its job and I will use their letterhead a lot more in 2020."

Hinds- Layne believes that the public of Barbados does understand some of the issues affecting women and is heartened to see those comments online challenging ideas around women's issues as well as the numerous people who are using social media to speak out on behalf of women in the country.

"There is a lot of work to change the perception against violence against women and girls but thanks to the Me-Too movement, this has allowed Barbadians to be linked to this movement by social media.

And there are a lot more people using their social media feeds to keep these issues and conversations in the limelight."

The President of NOW continues to be an outspoken voice for the rights of women as well within the country and the region, often causing some ire and leading to her share of detractors. But remaining undaunted, Hinds-Layne feels she has a need to continue to speak up on behalf of women.

"I want to leave a different world for my daughter so she doesn't have to tolerate the things I may have had to endure or her grandmother may have had to endure."

NOW programs to tackle issues from all angles

The organization is also looking to do more outreach with its Jr NOW program that goes into schools to educate children on issues affecting women and girls, however at current, Hinds-Layne says they are pursuing a title sponsor so they can continue to do more of this outreach. She added that one of the organization's goals will be finding financial support for the work that they are planning to do in 2020 and beyond.

One of their benchmark programs at current is the "Activist Theatre" that uses the theatre space to discuss difficult issues with stage plays. NOW is using the arts to educate the public further on issues of Domestic Violence, self-empowerment, and improvement.

To date, they have produced and staged "Scars beneath the sun" that was focused on skin bleaching and self-empowerment and have an upcoming play called "Whispers" that looks at abortion.

"We are looking to do four plays a year and we will definitely need financial support. Some of the actors are students at UWI [the University of the West Indies] and we are trying to assist them in looking to legitimize art for business. So we are not asking people to perform for free."

The next play is set to come off January 19, 2020, at the Daphne Joseph Hackett Theatre in Queens Park at 4.30 pm.

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