By Sister Terry Kimingiri
Recently, I took part in a walk in support of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign in Georgetown, Guyana. It was meant to gear the community up for an international campaign, beginning November 25—International Day Against Violence Against Women in Latin America—to December 10—International Human Rights Day. More than 6,000 organizations in 187 countries will participate in the campaign. We marched to challenge cultural norms that tolerate violence against women and girls.
Women and children in Guyana and throughout the world suffer from domestic violence in all shapes and forms, including physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, digital, financial and stalking, among others, as well as religious, economic, political and institutional violence.
Unaccompanied women or children, children in foster care arrangements and lone female heads of households are all frequent targets of domestic violence. Elderly women and those with physical or mental disabilities are also vulnerable, as are those women who are held in detention and in detention-like situations.
Wisdom calls us to accompany the little ones to school, and not to leave those who are vulnerable by themselves. Mercy invites us to shun the pervasive culture of machismo, to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with our God.
The young and not so young marched with posters such as, “Be a winner, choose life, love,” “Life is precious, value it,” “When you heat up, don’t beat up,” “Too many orphans, stop suicide” and “Stop rape,” to mention but a few.
We walked peacefully in the streets of Georgetown listening to music that made our afternoon walk light despite the scorching sun. The experience invited us to treat women and girls with dignity. We chanted “stop violence,” and it echoed back and forth in the crowd until we felt it in the depths of our hearts.
Our color for the day was purple. Purple represents reconciliation, healing, being in solidarity with all those women who have suffered violence in one way or another.
Our boys from St. John Bosco Orphanage joined us for the walk, because we must instill in them the importance of loving, caring for and respecting women and girls.