Category Archives: International advocacy

We have FAILED our women and girls

Presentation1United and Strong Inc got the opportunity to view a recent “pornographic video” circulating social media, featuring some level of sexual abuse of a young lady.

While some may seem to have dubbed this a form of “pornography’ we prefer to refer to it as the humiliation, torture and abuse of a young woman.  We are not too concerned with whether this was a recent or past situation but more so the continued objectification, sexual harassment and abuse experienced by our women and girls in Saint Lucia.  Such treatment appears to be part of the fabric of a young woman’s life and seems to be an accepted norm.

Too often such behaviors are described as “normal stuff” that “men do” while at the same time fostering in our women a culture of tolerating what “just happens” and where they are criticized for not successfully maneuvering men’s aggressive sexual behavior.  We somehow accepted a behavior where women play into the myth that “men will be men” and that men are unable to contain their sexual desires the way women do.

As men, we must accept the reality that we have failed and continue to fail our women, our daughters and our mothers.  We have bought into the belief that such behavior is what makes us “men”.  Even crazier is the apparent reality that women themselves are not being each other’s keeper.  Too often victims are belittled by their peers, holding them responsible for their victimization.

What is most disheartening to United and Strong Inc is the fact women in our upper echelons of government are doing very little to curb the impact of such crimes on their fellow women.  We have seen the many comments of being “empathetic” to women during times of crisis or when it’s politically appropriate.

If indeed our elected female Members of Parliament and female Ministers are “empathetic” towards their fellow women then:

  • Why remain muted when a cabinet colleague was involved in an alleged sexual misconduct?

  •  Why make comments that the best place for a new born baby was at a make-shift nursery at the Bordelais Correctional Facility?

  •  Why is that Victoria Hospital can’t have a separate examination room for victims of sexual violence?

  •  Why is it so difficult to have a full-time Social worker/Counselor stationed at the Office of the Vulnerable Persons Unit (VPT)?

United and Strong challenges the female Parliamentarians and Ministers to reflect a difference in how they engage the electorate and not become tangled in the “boy clubs” persona of our political parties.  We urge you to cast aside your political colors and initiate realistic activities that would lend to the safety and security of women within your communities.

We further challenge you to be bold and recognize the work United and Strong has been and continues to do with not just LGBT persons but women.  We open our doors to you, so you can engage the many recipients of our Red Light Project and other initiatives.

As a civil society organisation, we are committed to creating a future free from sexual violence and believe every individual has a role to play in this vision. All forms of bias, prejudice and oppression obstruct the mission of ending sexual violence.  We look forward to your willingness in partnering with United and Strong Inc and creating a conducive environment for national growth and development.

UnS contributes to Saint Kitts/Saint Lucia UPR statements

(Geneva, March 18, 2016)  “We remind the Government (of Saint Lucia) that human rights are universal, inalienable, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated and we therefore urge the Government, to repeal laws that criminalise persons based on their gender Identity or sexual orientation and affirm the rights of LGBTI persons.” So ends the statement to the 31st session of the Human Rights Council from United and Strong Inc and Sexual Rights Initiative.

The statement on the occasion of the Universal Periodic Review Outcomes for Saint Lucia, called on government to fulfil it’s international obligations, especially as it relates to the full recognition of the rights of all citizens .

See the statement here: Saint Lucia statement

UnS also contributed to a statement during the discussion on outcomes for St Kitts and Nevis, collaborating with Saint Kitts Alliance for Equality, and CariFLAGS. The statement urged the government to “recognise a popular mandate is not needed to ensure security, justice and equality for all, in particular its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and disabilities communities.”

Find the statement here: Saint Kitts Nevis UPR statement

— ENDS —

Saint Lucia’s human rights record on review at the UN

The United Nations in Geneva informs that Saint Lucia’s rights record will be scrutinised at its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in November, 2015.

United and Strong profited the opportunity in October, to attend UPR  pre-sessional meetings at the  UN, following the organisation’s submission of UPR reports for Saint Lucia and St. Kitts. The UPR pre-sessional meetings bring together permanent  missions, national human rights institutions and civil society organisations to discuss the human rights situation of states one month prior to their reviews at the UPR working group.

The organisation’s representative also engaged state representatives on a range of human rights issues. Included among these issues were matters relating to  women, sexual orientation, children (in particular corporal punishment) and Saint Lucia’s commitment to its international obligations.

George meets with Colombia government
George meets with government of Colombia

Estelle George noted, “This event was indeed successful in that U&S was able to meaningfully engage over 20 states to advocate recommendations to be put to Saint Lucia during its upcoming UPR review in November  2015.”

Find the United Nation’s official press release on the review below.

Media Advisory

GENEVA (2 November 2015) – Saint Lucia’s human rights record will be examined by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group for the second time on Thursday 5 November 2015 in a meeting that will be webcast live.

Saint Lucia is one of the 14 States to be reviewed by the UPR Working Group during its upcoming session taking place from 2 to 13 November.  Saint Lucia’s first review took place on 25 January 2011.

The documents on which the reviews are based are: 1) national report – information provided by the State under review 2) compilation of information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities; 3) summary of information provided by other stakeholders including national human rights institutions, regional organizations and civil society groups.

Among the issues raised in the above-mentioned documents are: the need for strengthening the human rights legislative framework and institutional infrastructure, including the establishment of an independent national human rights monitoring mechanism, the increase of gang homicides and gang related activities, issues affecting the LGBT community, gender equality policies and discrimination against women, excessive use of force by law enforcement and cases of extra-judicial killings, steps to combat gender and domestic violence, the minimum age of criminal responsibility, the poverty situation and steps to abolish the death penalty.

The three reports serving as the basis for the review of Saint Lucia on 5 November can be found here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/LCSession23.aspx
Location: Room 20, Palais des Nations, Geneva
Time and date: 09.00 – 12.30, Thursday 5 November (Geneva time, GMT +1 hour)

The UPR is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.  Since its first meeting was held in April 2008, all 193 UN member States have been reviewed during the first UPR cycle and 140 thus far during the second cycle.  The second review of States aims to highlight human rights developments in the country since its first review and provides an opportunity for States under review to spell out steps taken to implement recommendations posed during their first reviews.

The delegation of Saint Lucia will be headed by Ms. Menissa Rambally, Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the United Nations The three country representatives serving as rapporteurs (“troika”) for the review of Saint Lucia are:  Ethiopia, Ireland and Brazil.

The webcast of the session will be at http://webtv.un.org

The list of speakers and all available statements to be delivered during the review of Saint Lucia will be posted on the UPR Extranet at the following link [username:  hrc extranet (with space); password: 1session]: https://extranet.ohchr.org/sites/upr/Sessions/23session/SaintLucia/Pages/default.aspx

The UPR Working Group is scheduled to adopt the recommendations of Saint Lucia at 16.30 on 10 November.  The State under review may wish you to express its positions on recommendations posed to it during their review.  The recommendations will be shared with the media on this day in advance.

For more information and media requests, please contact Rolando Gómez at +41 (0) 22 917 9711 /  rgomez@ohchr.org  or Cédric Sapey at +41 (0) 22 917 9695 / csapey@ohchr.org

To learn more about the Universal Periodic Review, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx

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