By Makeida Antonio
Women who have been subjected to violence in Antigua and Barbuda have been given words of support in the wake of the latest homicide.
Minister of Gender Affairs Dean Jonas released a statement following the brutal murder of 25-year-old Neltah Telemaque whose body was found with multiple wounds near Burma Quarry on Sunday.
“As minister with responsibility for gender affairs, and on behalf of the government of Antigua and Barbuda, I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to the family and loved ones of Ms Neltah Telemaque,” Minister Jonas said.
He continued that any instance of gender-based violence (GBV) is regrettable but when it results in loss of life it is particularly difficult to accept and process.
“The government of Antigua and Barbuda has been working proactively to address the issue of gender-based violence, and in particular violence against women and girls. We understand that this is not a new issue and it is one that has persisted over the years,” he said.
The tragedy took place during the observance of the 16 Days of Activism, a global campaign to raise awareness of violence against women.
Jonas pledged to ensure that police partnership and financial support are offered to the Directorate of Gender Affairs (DoGA) which has several counselling and referral services for victims.
“My ministry has been working diligently … to address this issue through policy, response services of the Support and Referral Centre and engagement with international development partners to assist us in generally strengthening our institutional capacity when it comes to gender-based violence,” he said.
Meanwhile, President of Women Against Rape, Alexandrina Wong, shared a press release in which she claimed that a culture of misogyny continues to perpetuate the normalisation of violence against women.
“Writings support that patriarchal cultural patterns that are deep rooted in society fuel the commodification of women and normalise violence. Gender-based violence continues to plague our society in a variety of ways in both overt and covert manners,” Wong said.
The NGO head argued that the intentional killing of women, also known as femicide, is cause for concern in Antigua and Barbuda.
“Femicide is documented as the most dramatic and grievous forms of gender-based violence and human rights discrimination against women and girls, and occurs in a multiplicity of forms on a daily basis presenting in two main ways – violent intimate relations both current and past, and violence by others including relatives, social environment, or strangers,” she added.
Women Against Rape can be contacted via WhatsApp at +1268 7257522 or via email at [email protected]