The Minister of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development, Hon. Dr. Gale Rigobert has expressed deep sadness over news of a reported case of sexual violence during the 24-hour lock down period, as part of the Government of Saint Lucia’s efforts at reducing the community spread of COVID-19.
Recent incidents bring to the fore the increased risks for gender-based violence associated with sudden and unexpected changes in the lives and livelihoods of citizens. The Minister is urging the general public to demonstrate its sense of community by looking out for the most vulnerable in our communities. This includes our children and our women, especially in remote and underserved areas.
The Division of Gender Relations and its partners, especially those offering essential services for Gender-based Violence are quadrupling efforts to ensure that there is increased access to information on gender-based violence – what it is, how we can each play our part to eliminate gender-based violence, and where we can get help.
The Division is calling on all citizens to pay attention to the public service announcements (PSAs), to peruse and like the Women’s Support Center, Crisis Center and Division of Gender Relations Facebook pages and to visit the Department of Education, Innovation and Gender Relations website for useful information on how you can help to stop gender-based violence. We also take the opportunity to appeal to essential services workers to be more vigilant than usual, adopting the principle of if you see something, say something as the usual first contacts for persons at risk are no longer available. Essential service workers have now become first contacts for the most vulnerable who are hardly ever the ones to seek help for themselves.
We appeal to the general public to call the 202-Hotline for intimate partner violence and the 203 helpline for other types of crises. Both lines operate a 24-hour service. Call 999 for criminal emergencies and 911 for medical and fire emergencies. These services are meant to help you and to make it easier to get help to you. You can dial these numbers from any phone at any time.
Minister Rigobert appeals to the general public to show greater empathy and compassion and to exercise tolerance and respect.
“COVID-19 is a test of our mettle and is a true test of our resilience, faith and strength. We need our energy and every bit of our mental capacity and health to go through this unpredictable situation. We can do it together. Let us look out for one another and play our part to end gender-based violence in our own corners,” Dr. Rigobert said.