Afraid of heels

From left: Andrea Taylor, President of the YWCA Paige Bryan and Damara Smith.

The Young Women’s Christian Association is looking for a few good men — in heels.

Unfortunately, explained president Paige Bryan, while Barbadian men have not been shy about condemning violence, not many appear bold enough to lace up a pair of high heel shoes and walk with them this coming weekend in a show of solidarity against all form of domestic violence.

The local YMCA is now into its second year of Walk A Mile In Her Shoes, an internationally recognised occasion when individual men, men’s organisations and agencies dominated by men such as fire and police department encourage members and employees to put on ladies shoes and walk in a symbolic show of opposition to domestic violence.

Today, Bryan told Barbados TODAY that again this year, while there had been some commitment by men to join Saturday’s walk, so far there had been little interest in the heels. However, she remained hopeful that within five years Bajan men would join their counterparts in other parts of the world.

Earlier, she noted that stalking and harassment had become so widespread that attention had to be brought to the situation to ensure authorities recognise that the legislation against these and other forms of abuse should reflect that seriousness of the situation.

She was speaking at the launch the Walk A Mile In Her Shoes initiative, which is geared at sensitising Barbadian on sexualised violence. She said for some time they had been hearing of promises of updated legislation but to date none had been passed and it was currently still in its formative stages.

“We think that, yes it has been given some prominence, but more needs to be done to raise the awareness in Barbados, more needs to be done to get the updated legislation passed. The legislation needs to take into account technology because you can stalk a person not only by just following them or sitting in a car outside their house but you can do it by Facebook, via texting. So we want the legislation to take account of those new methods of harassing someone … We need to move now to get it passed.

“We are reiterating our call for a specialised unit in the Royal Barbados Police Force to deal with domestic violence … with trained personnel and all the relevant crews to help the people who would be going through this.†Just like they have a unit to deal with drugs we think that this problem is sufficient enough in Barbados that there should be a unit.

“I don’t know if it is realistic but if you don’t call you will never get it — we need to start by making the call. The idea is that you need to advocate and raise awareness and we think that the time is here and the time is right for a specialised unit,” she said.

First Vice President, Andrea Taylor, repeated Bryan’s call for updated legislation, further stating that domestic violence was a plague in Barbados that required immediate attention.

“What we have found is that persons try to shelter themselves and not take it as a serious approach. It seems to us that in the Barbadian landscape it is business as usual, people just take it that you can be abused … but because we think there is no avenue for you to get out, you decide to go back into these relationship.”

Saturday’s event is designed to inform sufferers of domestic abuse that there is an avenue they could use for help.

Both men and women are encouraged to come out to raise the awareness of the serious effects of gender-based violence and it is expected that Walk A Mile In Her Shoes will get people talking.

“The bruises for gender-based violence are not only physical, but mental and emotional, and these scars take the longest to heal. Therefore, for others, this event provides a sense of healing as information would be shared with participants regarding the services available during someone’s recovery process.

“People no longer have to suffer in silence. Preventive education can get both men and women to appreciate each other’s experiences and help to improve relationships, thereby decreasing the potential for violent situations,” second vice President, Damara Smith said.

The event will start at the General Post Office at Cheapside in the City and end at Independence Square with a rally. (KC/RRM)

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