Several victims of domestic violence along with their relatives, friends and supporters marched through the streets of New Amsterdam on Saturday afternoon to raise awareness about the social ill that has been affecting women countrywide for decades.
The march which began at Tacama Turn, Stanleytown and ended at Shoe Lane, New Amsterdam was organised by Latoya Williamson, delegate number 12 in the much anticipated Berbice ‘I’m a Big Deal’ pageant. Williamson is also the sister of Shondell Williamson, who was doused with acid by her ex-husband on January 20, 2017.
The young delegate after the march stated that “Today we are walking with a purpose. As I was walking I was remembering my sister and how because of violence against woman she is going through so much.” Williamson noted, that while her sister remains jovial and energetic her journey as a “survivor” is challenging.
She said, “We have to ask ourselves, ‘how many more?’, and be willing to make a change.” Williamson also encouraged victims to speak out. She then explained to the gathering that separating from a violent partner will not “change them” and that the violent partner should be held responsible for their actions however trivial they may seem.
She furthermore thanked the men who were apart of the crowd for taking a stand against violence against women. She noted that more people, men specifically, need to speak out against violence. Whether you are a neighbour, friend or relative of a victim, speaking out, she stressed, can save a life.
Meanwhile, Anthony Blair, son of the late proprietors of the ‘Stretch D Dollar’ franchise also attended the walk with other relatives. Blair said, “I think that domestic violence should not exist in the entire world. Men should not beat or even touch women for any reason whether jealously or anything.” He stressed that more emphasis needs to be placed on educating men. “We should educate them, help them manage their anger on whatever is going on with them,” young Blair said.
One of the victims who was present shared that she was initially afraid to leave her husband because she was not sure whether she would have been able to make it on her own. However, she said that after not being able to bear the abuse anymore she decided to stand up for herself and exit the relationship. “Today I am living a happy and healthy life and my daughter is too,” the woman said.
Almost 30 persons attended the march, and despite the rain the march continued.
The following are cases where women lost their lives to violence in Berbice during the last year: On March 31, skeletal remains, suspected to be those of Lilwantie Balack were found buried in a farm behind her Black Bush Polder home, where her husband directed police after he had reportedly confessed to strangling her.
On June 21, Mintie Karamchand, 40, of Lot 19, Sheet Anchor Village, East Canje, Berbice sustained several chop wounds to her wrist and foot, along with several lashes with a wooden bench in her head from her estranged husband which resulted in her death.
In July 2017, 16-year-old Parbattie Lakhpal was found dead with stab wounds about her body at her house in Number Two Village, East Canje Berbice, while on 11 August 2017, the body of 42-year-old Rhonda Jackman Blair, 42, of 91 Coburg Street, Cumberland Village, East Canje, Berbice, was discovered dead in her yard with two stab wounds; one to the left side breast and the other to the right side neck. Blair’s husband, the accused, after fleeing from the police subsequently took his own life. Adding to this, on 5th October 2017, Police Sergeant #19467 Kenisha Sheriff-Fraser, 39, of Lot 370 Number 30 Village, West Coast Berbice was found dead with multiple severe chop wounds about her entire body.
The ‘I’m a Big Deal’ empowerment and beauty pageant will be held on Saturday, November 18 at the Albion Sports Complex, where twelve young Berbicians are expected to compete in one of the biggest events in Region Six for the year. The pageant also provides delegates with the opportunity to shed light on social ills.
A part of the march
Supporters of the march