Students take the lead in saying enough!  END THE VIOLENCE
THE LINE of orange-clad students of the Girls’ High School and the St. Vincent Grammar School stretched for a few hundred yards along the tarmac at Arnos Vale last Friday.
May 24, 2022

Students take the lead in saying enough! END THE VIOLENCE

STUDENTS FROM several schools across St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), and workers at various institutions donned orange garb and carried placards last Friday to raise awareness and advocate for an end to violence against women.

A GROUP of junior students of the St Vincent Grammar School marched up and down the tarmac, chanting and holding placards calling for the violence to stop

The demonstrations were triggered by a spate of killings since the beginning of May, including the violent deaths of two women.

“We were having staff meeting, we were wrapping up and my theatre arts teacher, Ms Nisha Hope shared her deep grief at what has been happening in St Vincent and the Grenadines and we decided to act,” deputy Headmistress of the Girls’ High School (GHS), Athalie Caine-Soleyn told SEARCHLIGHT on Friday during the school’s protest.

“It was time to act and we acted swiftly so we are here this morning to advocate against violence against women, violence against all actually, but as a girls’ school, we see the importance of focusing on our females.”

The deputy Headmistress noted that though the motto of the all-girl institution is “Per Ardua Ad Alta”, which translates to mean “Through Difficulties, to the Heights”, violence is not a difficulty that any woman or girl must experience.

Students of the GHS lined the decommissioned ET Joshua tarmac with placards to protest violence against women. The young ladies were joined by past students, supporters, and students of the St Vincent Grammar School.

STUDENTS OF the School for Children with Special Needs joined protests last Friday to show solidarity in the various calls to end violence against women

Headmaster of the St Vincent Grammar School Colin Sam, told SEARCHLIGHT that it was fitting the all-boy institution stand in solidarity with the GHS because “we came from mothers”.

“As simple as that sounds, we all came from mothers and we have to stand in solidarity with our sisters because we are all connected somewhere and we saw it fitting to join our sisters here to show that we are standing up against violence against women,” he said.

PARENTS AND members of the public joined the students and displayed creative placards with anti-violence messages

On May 12, the body of a female under the age of 20 was discovered stuffed in a bag that had been discarded in a gutter at Murray’s Road.

Days later, the body was identified as that of Precious Williams, a 17-yearold resident of Walvaroo.

Family Court counsellor, Luann Roberts was also found dead on May 1, in the back of her vehicle at Buccament Bay.

“It is just not normal. We can’t continue life as normal when we’re having these types of brutal crimes against young women in this country and also crimes against children generally and violence generally is really, really terrible,” lawyer, Louise Mitchell said on Friday.

Mitchell, who was present at the protests on the tarmac in Arnos Vale commended the leadership of the schools for getting the students involved in advocating for an end to the violence.

The lawyer shared her thoughts that attention should be paid to violence in every form.

“We have to stop violence in this country. We have to look at every source and condemn it in every form. We have to condemn bullying at school, we have to condemn violence against boys, against girls, against women and men. It’s time for a change and time for our society to start caring more about our neighbours,” she said.

Lenny Lewis, a 7-yearold boy from Diamond was found dead in a car last Thursday. His mother last saw him three days before.

ST JOSEPH’S Convent Kingstown students with the placards

Mitchell added that it was unacceptable, “that a little boy is missing for days or a girl is missing for days and nobody even knows that they’re gone. We have to stand up and care about each other more”.

Other schools, including the St Joseph’s Convent Kingstown (SJCK), St Joseph’s Convent Marriaqua (SJCM), the School for Children with Special Needs and the Bishop’s College, Kingstown engaged in similar initiatives on Friday, in the hopes of raising awareness and sending a strong message to end violence against women.

Principal of the SJCK, Sister Martha Sebastien said: “I don’t think any of us like what is happening and many women are suffering, and children. What happened to this young woman and the child recently, it’s not just women but children who are suffering so we really need to take a stand”.

Sister Martha told SEARCHLIGHT that the Catholic school makes an effort to educate its students on issues like these in an effort to show the importance of speaking out.

Teacher at the School for Children with Special Needs Kingstown, Reba Cozier also noted that the action taken by schools last Friday help to raise awareness and start the conversation that will hopefully, result in some kind of change.

A STUDENT of the School for Children with Special Needs passionately called for an end to violence against women and children at last Friday’s protest

“If there is protest, that means we see that something is wrong, that means we need something to change. So in protest, there is hope that those in authority…will be able to see that we are calling for something to be done, we would like to see some kind of change and when we get that message out, more and more persons, hopefully will join on the train and then we see real change happening,” she said.

Employees at various business institutions including Interactive Media Limited, the National Lotteries Authority and the Building and Loan Association also donned their orange shirts and engaged in smaller scale activities to advocate for an end to violence against women.

Persons also took to social media to share posts and show solidarity to the movement.