Canadian High Commissioner urges support for victims of sexual violence

- as Help and Shelter, Rainbow House receive education aids

“We have an obligation to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves,” High Commis-sioner of Canada Dr Nicole Giles declared yesterday, while emphasising the importance of raising awareness about sexual violence.

Dr Giles was at the time addressing a small gathering at a handing over ceremony, in the conference room of Help and Shelter, where Information, Education and Commun-ication (IEC) materials on the prevention of sexual violence were handed over to Help and Shelter and Rainbow House.

The education aids were handed over as a part of a Help and Shelter/Rainbow House Sexual Violence Awareness Project, which aims to raise awareness about sexual violence in the society.

High Commissioner of Canada Dr Nicole Giles (left) hands over DVDs featuring discourses on sexual violence to Rainbow House representative Namela Henry
High Commissioner of Canada Dr Nicole Giles (left) hands over DVDs featuring discourses on sexual violence to Rainbow House representative Namela Henry

Giles, during her address, noted that sexual violence against women and children has tremendous costs to communities, nations and societies. It inflicts devastating familial effects, she observed, while adding that its impact vibrates well beyond the immediate victims and imposes tremendous costs on communities’ economic, public health, security and social sectors.

“As an international community, and as human beings, we have an obligation to the victims of these appalling forms of violence,” she said, while noting that the fight against sexual violence requires a multi-stakeholder ap-proach with full support from all relevant partners in society, including the media, faith-based organisations and other non-governmental organisations, academic institutions, private sector, all levels of government, youths, women and men.

She also underscored the need for efforts to be coordinated to ensure maximisation of resources and the need for dialogue to be encouraged with interest groups as well as the need for support for the ongoing efforts of the local partners.

According to Giles, amidst the trauma of sexual violence, hope is seen in the victims themselves as they gain strength to stop the violence and rebuild their lives as well as in the efforts by those who help. “The work of Help and Shelter and the many other organisations that provide support to victims through research, counselling, public education and advocacy is essential,” she noted.

Among the items handed over were newly-designed posters with messages of speaking out against sexual violence and what to do in the instance of being or knowing a victim of sexual violence; handbooks covering the Sexual Offences Act in a more comprehensive manner; and DVDs featuring an edited version of live discourses on sexual violence.

At the handing over, project coordinator of Help & Shelter Margaret Kertzious expressed her appreciation to the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives for its help in facilitating the project, which she deemed a success.

The project has seen the organising and facilitating of three two-day regional training workshops in regions 2, 3, 5, 6 to raise awareness and build capacity of service providers, frontline workers, NGOs and other stakeholders in the prevention, protection and prosecution of sexual violence. It has also seen the airing of three one-hour live call in TV programmes on sexual violence prevention, the Sexual Offences Act and rape culture on three TV stations, the airing of two one-hour live call in television programmes to create awareness and sensitise the general public on the prevention sexual violence in relation to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

Other speakers at the event included Namela Henry, who spoke on behalf of Rainbow House, which offers vocational training to members of the LGBT community.

The ceremony also saw the recognition of three counsellors for their outstanding contributions to Help & Shelter in 2014. They were: Desiree Ramdeen, Linda Gray and Laurence Hanoman.

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