HUNDREDS braved last Sunday morning’s overcast weather conditions to participate in this year’s ‘Walk 4 A Cause’ that sought to create awareness in the fight against domestic violence.
The walk began at the Vigie roundabout and ended at Club Gar’s premises at Bois d’Orange, with many participants expressing that the 4-mile trek was worth the while.
Now in its fourth year, the walk has raised funds to support various organizations that create awareness about various social issues. Previous beneficiaries from the club’s walk include the Saint Lucia Cadet Corps, the World Pediatric Project, and the St. Lucia Diabetic & Hypertension Association (SLDHA).
Anthony Bristol, executive member of Club Gar, told The VOICE on Sunday that the walk achieved the organizers’ objectives, especially as the theme affects many households.
“We feel really encouraged,” Bristol said. “The turnout was wonderful. We’ve gotten what we were looking for in terms of numbers, energy and – most importantly – awareness. People are aware of what’s going on and actually understand (the problem). They’re not just out for a walk but (also) out for a cause: to break the silence on domestic violence.”
Bristol said that while statistics show that women seem to be in the majority as far as being the brunt of domestic violence is concerned, the club was impressed that many men joined the walk to demonstrate their intolerance to abuse. Nevertheless, he believes that a greater deal of education needs to be targeted at especially young men and women to prevent any incidence of domestic violence.
“(We need to teach them how) to deal with aggression issues and frustration differently without resorting to violence. I think we’d make a difference. So it’s not just talking to those who (would have showed up for the walk) but also trying to see how we can engage the kids through the Ministry of Education as well,” he explained.
He added: “We really have to tackle this problem head-on to make an impact for the long-term.”
Bristol said all funds raised from this year’s walk go into a special account at the National Community Foundation (NCF) to be used for support of shelters and the St. Lucia Crisis Centre.
Bristol said the club welcomes any donation of cash, time or expertise towards the cause because “we can all make a difference if we actually start doing something instead of just talking about what’s wrong.”
According to Bristol, the number of walkers this year increased significantly, between 100 and 150. He also expressed gratitude to all corporate sponsors, walkers and other organizers, including the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force.
Tarriba do Nascimento, who completed the walk, told The VOICE that it was her first time participating in the walk, adding that she felt the cause “was very fitting considering the ‘Not Asking For It’ movement being championed by photographer/activist Fiona Compton.
“She’s gotten me very passionate about domestic violence. I mean, let’s look at the year we’ve been having. When we think about all the crimes of passion we’ve had, I feel this was very timely to try to highlight domestic violence issues in Saint Lucia, which is something we tend to turn a blind eye to,” she said.
She also believes that stricter legislation needs to be enforced whereby once reports of domestic violence are made either by the abused or others, the police needs to be empowered to investigate such matters thoroughly. She also stressed the need for more safe houses where safety means just that.
“We need more safe houses that are actually hidden and safe,” she said, “because I find sometimes we know a little too much about where these places are, so you don’t even feel safe going there.”