The “Life in Leggings” march for justice

first_img– a grassroots revolution in the makingBy Jarryl BryanThe “Life in Leggings” march is back. This time around, the event dubbed ‘A march for justice’ is expected to receive support from a number of Government and non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) as organisers hope to challenge abuse in society.Scenes from the 2017 marchOne such organiser is social activist Akola Thompson, who related to this publication that the march is being organised by the Student Society against Human Rights Violations (SAHRV) in collaboration with the Life in Leggings: Caribbean Alliance against Gender-based Violence.It is understood that the March 10 march will begin at 15:00h at Square of the Revolution. The route heads down Brickdam and ends at Stabroek Market Square. A number of organisations have come together to support the march.According to Thompson, these organisations include Help & Shelter, the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA), ASPIRE Youth Network, Guyana Women Miners Association (GWMA), the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), GuyBow, Guyana Trans United, ChildLink, Red Thread, and the Guyana Karate College.Activist Akola ThompsonIn addition, the President’s Youth Award Republic of Guyana and the University of Guyana Student Society will be involved. She further informed that RED Entertainment is currently assisting the SAHRV to coordinate the march.Thompson also addressed any misconceptions that may surround the march. Stressing that the march is not an exclusionist event but rather can benefit from the input of persons regardless of gender, she described it as making a political statement.“Not political in the sense of governmental politics, but political in the sense of challenging dominant ideas and narratives and mobilising to achieve our collective goals of safety, equality and justice,” Thompson clarified. “This year, our march is one against people in positions of trust and power whose acts constitute violence against women and children.”“When we speak about positions of trust, we are speaking about those teachers, pastors, family members who use their positions to sexually groom and violate. When we speak about those in positions of power, we’re speaking about the employers; we’re talking about the big politicians and their children who use their positions of power to send women to psychiatric institutions with no due process.”She also made it clear that marches against gender-based violence are not only for women. Thompson clarified that the men also have a role to play in coming and standing up in solidarity against injustices.“It’s not only women who are victims of [gender-based violence] GBV. We definitely are the targeted sex but GBV is not something that is specific to sex or gender. Our aim is a safer country for all Guyanese. We all have a part to play.”AdvancesSince last year’s march, a number of specific initiatives targeting GBV have been launched. This includes Women’s Wednesdays Guyana; a platform on social media where Thompson invites guests to address misconceptions about violence and harassment.Topics have ranged from preventing the sexual abuse of minors to effective family planning. Some, however, have questioned whether the programme is on a hiatus. According to Thompson, the programme is currently being revamped and she has high expectations for the programme’s future.“With regards to Women’s Wednesdays Guyana [WWG], I’m currently working out plans to make it more sustainable. It really started as a short experiment and was not meant to be long-term,” she said.“Seeing the overwhelming response and interest in it however, I realised that this was something I would need to continue because it was important. Our hope for WWG in five years’ time is for it to become an informational hub not only to Guyanese but across the Region.”In recent times a website, reportabuse.com was launched to receive reports from victims of abuse who may not want to directly approach the authorities. The website has a form that has to be filled with details such as the names of the victim and perpetrator, as well as the desired outcome.The information is reviewed by the site administrators and forwarded to the relevant authorities; the Child Care and Protection Agency if it is a minor and the Guyana Police Force if it is an adult, for action. According to Thompson, also one of the site’s facilitators, there are plans to add counselling services to the website.“With regards to the website, in five years it will be doing exactly what it is doing. That is, it will still be a reporting system platform where crimes of sexual violence can be reported and forwarded to the relevant agencies and support services through our various partners. In five years, it is the hope that we will have partners in every region to handle cases quickly and efficiently when reports come in.”last_img

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