NGOs, UN agency go to market to educate people about gender-based violence

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Derron Philanders pretends he is assaulting Kezzia Huggins in a D’Mad Company performance at the Tunapuna market Saturday as part of a campaign about gender- based violence. – ANGELO MARCELLE

VISHANNA PHAGOO

Gender-based violence is more than just physical assault, it has a wider array of actions, including abuse on smart devices, and to educate people about them Unicef has created the End Violence Spotlight Initiative. This initiative is carried out by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and NGOs like Indigenous Creative Arts Network (Ican) and Fire Circle that go to populated areas such as the Tunapuna/Piarco and Mayaro/Rio Claro regions.

At the Tunapuna Market on Saturday, co-founder of Fire Circle Nicole S Hendrickson said people were shocked to find out that they can become victims of gender-based violence through their smart devices. She explained that instances where people have been threatened through social media, texts or calls, have their devices taken away or destroyed, were all acts of gender-based violence. She said this is called technology facilitated gender-based violence, and educates people about it after they’ve taken part in her survey.

“Mostly women in media are targets for this kind of violence because some people feel as though women shouldn’t be in certain spaces.”

She then drew reference to the threats made to a local journalist by Trinidad-born American rapper Nicki Minaj through social media after she was pursuing a story.

Founder of Ican Dara Healy, members and invited representatives of UNFPA, were out sharing information to shoppers at the market. Those interested were free to sit and talk to them. The representatives also distributed folders containing the UWI-Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business catalogue that serves as a guide to victims and survivors. This catalogue has information on organisations that victims may reach out to for help and the hotlines they can access.

Chairman of the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation Kwasi Robinson, who was present to support the cause, walked through the market and told vendors and shoppers how important it was to have the catalogue and call cards with the hotlines which may come in handy for them or someone they know. He also handed out key rings with alarms.

Robinson said he received support from two women, both of different parties and added, “I’m happy to see when it comes to issues like these, people don’t allow politics to divide us.” His corporation is PNM-controlled.

Healy added, “Ican mainly uses cultural and performance based interventions so that’s our methodology in sharing information on these topics in communities.”

This was then proven when two entertainers, Kezzia Huggins and Derron Philanders of D’Mad Company (Drama Making a Difference) started shouting, “I’ll kill you” and “Nobody wants you” while pretending to physically attack one another. Given their performance, two passers-by thought it was real and rushed to stop them until they were told it wasn’t.

Healy said, “Once we have performances in communities, we will have a counsellor, or someone from that community present. So if people are facing challenges, there is someone there trained that they can speak to.”

The spotlight initiative also had a showcase at the Eddie Hart Grounds in Tacarigua on Friday night.

Healy said the group’s next destination for the End Violence Spotlight Initiative is Tobago. She also plans to host a safe space for men and boys facing the same issue. She chose not to disclose any more information for the safety of these victims but said the stories will be shared anonymously to their Facebook page for educational purposes.