Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda joins countries seeking to Break the Silence
ANTIGUA, April 24 2013 - Private and public sector stakeholders in Antigua and Barbuda have come on board to support the UNICEF-initiated Break the Silence Campaign which is being rolled out across the Eastern Caribbean.
A government-appointed committee within the Citizens Welfare Division in the Ministry of Social Transformation has organised a year-long series of activities dubbed the Innocence Campaign. Former West Indies Cricket captain and master batsman Sir Vivian Richards has been named as the official voice of the campaign.
“Child Abuse has a serious physical, psychological and social impact, not only on girls and boys, but also on the fabric of society. Therefore, the time has come for all to stand up for the future of this fair land.
“Our actions of breaking the silence will go a long way to ensure that the necessary legislative provisions are in place so that the rights, dignity and safety of all children are protected and preserved,” said Sir Vivian.
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Social Transformation Senator Malaka Parker said, whilst the government, through the Division of Social Transformation, continues to do its part in this fight to protect our vulnerable children, strategic partnership alliances would be required at all levels to strengthen the drive to educate, advocate, empower and stimulate the discussion and feed the momentum in the fight to protect girls and boys.
“The ‘Innocence Project’ is aimed at penetrating the cover of silence which feeds the abuse of all children, and in particular, our girls. This campaign will be comprised of many components which will seek to incorporate agencies and stakeholders at all levels in our push to Break the Silence,” explained Parker.
She indicated that the initiative will also see the Ministry’s move to review and strengthen the operations of the childcare protection agencies as well as a comprehensive revision of all juvenile related legislation.
UNICEF Representative for the Eastern Caribbean Area Khin-Sandi Lwin described the Break the Silence Campaign as a multi-pronged approach to protect children across the Caribbean against the scourge of sexual abuse and its associated psychological and physical risks.
“Too often in the past we have treated child sexual abuse as a taboo issue for discussion yet with wide spread social tolerance. Through this Blue Teddy Bear initiative, we hope the message will go forward to the entire nation that there are no innocent bystanders. Silence is acceptance.
“We all have a responsibility to fulfil children’s rights so that they can grow up to be responsive and responsible citizens; to ensure that the lives of girls and boys are free from abuse, neglect and violence,” Ms. Lwin added.
Antigua and Barbuda is one of several countries in the Eastern Caribbean which has launched the Break the Silence initiative