SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Faction Leader for the United People's Party in Parliament, the Honourable Grisha Heyliger-Marten, says by the first quarter of 2022, she will introduce and, where necessary, improve legislation to help eradicate violence against women.
She made the statement in a press release issued Wednesday to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women set by the United Nations as November 25th each year.
One of those goals is extending the amount of time given by law for victims of abuse to come forward and report the crime. “Some people are embarrassed to come forward and by the time they get the courage to do so the law is not on their side,” said Heyliger-Marten.
Heyliger-Marten said she does not want only to acknowledge today but would instead rely on her ability as a legislator to act on behalf of all persons who experience any form of abuse. "We must do more to end the violent acts that are perpetrated against our fellow citizens each year, especially women. We must find ways for them to speak out more and support organizations and Government Agencies who already work with those who come forward."
Violence, which includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse, threats, coercion, and economic or educational deprivation, cannot be condoned in our society. Everyone must do their part and speak out against these acts.
Heyliger-Marten said many changes are needed across all government ministries, and laws to "End Violence Against Women Now!" as the United Nation's theme for 2021 states are urgently required.
We can start by changing the way we think about our women who are victims of abuse. Change mind-set that says, "It’s the victim's fault." When it comes to violence, the responsibility lies with the perpetrator.
We need to make perpetrators accountable for their actions and not just punish them. Create proper programs to encourage behavioural changes and protect families so that survivors of domestic violence can feel safe. Make it a condition that the abusers help fund these programs, especially in cases where the victim was dependant on the income of the abuser. These measures will encourage people to come forward and will save lives.
The goal is to combine the recommended measures with more education about identifying and reporting abuse. These measures will make it easier for women to leave abusive relationships.
Heyliger-Marten said we must also recognize that our young children who live in homes where abuse exists are often victims themselves or witnesses of the abuse. "We must start now to educate our new generations about their rights and how to stand up for themselves."
Protecting our women also means ensuring that there is legislation to provide equal pay and treatment for them on their jobs. This will make them feel safe at work and empower them to speak out against violence at home.
"There is a lot to do. Together with everyone doing their little part for all women, I stand committed to all the women of St. Martin also known as Oualichi the land of brave women," said Heyliger-Marten.