Women still vulnerable to abuse and inequality

| 08/03/2011

(CNS): Despite many achievements in the field of gender equality, women in Cayman, in common with those around the world, are still more likely to be poor and vulnerable than men as well as face abuse and discrimination, the community services minister has said. Speaking at a special ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day,Mike Adam said the day served as a powerful reminder that empowering women and girls requires continued vigilance, dedication and commitment. He also pointed out that women’s participation in the political arena was not equal to that of men and more had to be done to empower local women.

“The National Assessment of Living Conditions Study indicates that the female population in the Cayman Islands is more likely than the male population to be among the poor and vulnerable,” Adam stated in his address at the Westin on Tuesday morning (8 March). “Furthermore, in many jurisdictions, as well as ours, women and girls remain the overwhelming victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault and other forms of exploitation.”

Talking about female participation in the country’s political arena, he said we see inequality there as well. He added that since 1997, when Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly became the first female appointed as a minister, there has never been more than one female minister in Cabinet at any given time, and from 2005-2009 there were no female ministers.

“These facts signal to us that we must continue to uphold women’s rights and strengthen our efforts to ensure that we put in place proper programmes, policies and legal mechanisms to advance and uplift our women and girls,” he added.

Having passed the Protection Against Domestic Violence Law last year, which redefines domestic violence, expanding it beyond physical abuse to include sexual, financial, emotional and/or psychological abuse, he said further legislation was on the agenda to assist in the equality of the sexes.

Adam said that the Gender Equality Bill, 2011 is to be heard on Cabinet’s agenda this month and be brought to the Legislative Assembly this year – though he did not say when.

“This piece of legislation will be the most significant move in a very long time towards addressing gender equality issues in the Cayman Islands,” the minister stated. “The bill offers protection against gender discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status, and pregnancy. It covers issues such protection from gender discrimination in employment, training and recruitment; promotes equal pay for equal work; provides protection from sexual harassment in the work place, and other related matters.”

He explained that once this piece of legislation was in place, the Cayman Islands Government would then be able to make a request to the United Kingdom for the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), an international bill of rights for women, to be extended to Cayman.

“The extension of CEDAW would be a move to further strengthen the rights of women and girls in the Cayman Islands,” Adam said. “I must also remind each person that outside of any legislation or mandate to protect women, we have a moral responsibility to continue to strive for gender equality. Women play key roles in maintaining the social fabric of our community and strengthening our economic prosperity, and we must never forget that.”

A special poster was also unveiled at the ceremony celebrating 100 years of International Women’s Day.

Meanwhile, the WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan, delivered a message listing the social and legal reforms that had improved the state of women’s health around the world but noted that maternal mortality rates and HIV rates among young women were still too high, tobacco consumption among women is increasing, sexual and other forms of gender-based violence continue to be widespread, and there is an increasingly heavy burden of non-communicable diseases on women.

The theme this year, "Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women", focuses on some basic determinants of women’s health.

“The direct and indirect ways that gender inequality prevents women of all ages from realizing their human right to health requires action now,” Chan stated. “Education and training equip girls and women with skills needed to protect their health but social norms deny many the chance to attend and complete primary and secondary levels of education. This negatively affects fertility and smoking rates and HIV prevention, and is associated with increased risk of experiencing sexual and other forms of gender -based violence.” She said involving women in health research and technology development ensures that medical advances do not jeopardize their health and ensures equal benefits from these advances.

“When women benefit from decent work conditions they are more likely to benefit from social protection measures such as employer-based health insurance, maternity benefits, occupational health and safety measures — all factors that improve access to health care and health outcomes,” Chan said, adding that when women and girls didn’t have equal access to these determinants of health, education, employment and health the systems have failed them.

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  1. IRON CLAD` says:

    Women… Abuse and Vulnerability???

    Let’s look at the abuse to men in at least two cases that I know about where women do evil things like throwing acid in men’s faces and best of my knowledge, served no time in prison. Regardless of whether the man was adulterous or abusive, justice should have been applied where mandated by law.

    In the matter of ‘child maintenance’ we need only think of the many men who have been suckered by women and our justice system(female judges mostly) whereas the mothers of children making claims for maintenance will make claims for amounts that are just outright ridiculous and far from being fair-minded, the Courts/Judges(usually female judges) will usually go with the amount being claimed in passing judgements to satisfy these women’s desires. One disturbing case i knew of was one father being forced by a female judge to pay CI$1300.00 p/month for his then-toddler. He could not afford, fought the case and lost. Truly disturbing.

    Let’s look at it this way – we have to consider that the responsibility for the conception of the child in question is 50/50 on both maternal parents in approx 85% of all cases, approx 13% could be tagged with willful intent of intrapment of men by women, into relationships(needless to say who is responsible here – (I, myself was a victim of this case) and the other 2% could be labeled regrettably as a result of rape or non-concensual sex(and rightfully so, the man should have to pay support and imprisoned in those cases. In almost all of these justifiable cases the courts/judges will force men to pay much MORE than their 50% part in the financial costs in rearing the child in question. In almost all cases of attempts of entrapment, the man has to pay child maintenance and again MORE than their share rightfully.

    Many of these women(not mothers) will spend the surpluses on themselves or worst yet will deprive the child of it’s needs to use the money on themselves, not to mention throwing off the burden of child-rearing on THEIR mothers and others while they go live their lives as well. What are the justice system doing about these things?

    *** Lastly, there is Criminal Law in place that stipulates, that "if a MAN shall use any words that INSULTS THE MODESTY OF A WOMAN,(such as Bi*ch, wh*re etc) the MAN shall be up for PROSECUTION, FINED and is SUBJECT to IMPRISONMENT". Yes… IMPRISONMENT!!! 

    ***NOTE*** This Law is NOT RECIPROCAL and does not apply to women.

    So are we still talking about abuses and inequality of WOMEN here?

    PS – I have always paid more than my fair share of child maintenance and then some MORE through visitation with my son.

    Just as IRON CLAD

  2. Anonymous says:

    As a man I can say that this must be a new phenomenon in Cayman. The women I know are all strong andhold solid jobs. They are the ones in the country that are buying land and their own houses. In fact I fear for my fellow Caymanain man who seems to be just fine sitting in a bar room, chasing bar maids and having children around every corner. With a small trip to Northward they cannot even leave the island to find work as our forefathers did. We need focus on the men and young boys of our country where the base problem is.

     

    Caymanian Women have always led the way in the country as the men were away at sea. They supported the family and disciplined the children. If we have a problem now it is because our women are emanating MTV, where the culture of women as play things for men seemed to be constantly poured out. Caymanian ladies, stop having kids for these "dead beat" men, your "baby fathers"- you are merely being used for someone’s ego trip.

     

    One only has to look at our government to see women’s role in society to know this story is slanted and not all accurate. Look at our heads of departments, Chief Officers, etc.- Speaker of the House, Chief Immigration, DOE, Water Authority, Education…on and on…Just look at the 100 women in the photo!

    As for the rest of the Caribbean it is accurate- been there, seen that.

     

    Now as for the second issue here- spousal abuse. Women are too far the victims here I agree but I have seen some men in serious situations as well.  What is not so advertised is the number of children that are being physically and verbally abuse by both men and women. We need to work on that problem post haste.

     

     

     

  3. The Crown says:

    This is very interesting & irritating to put it very mildly.. "Having passed the Protection Against Domestic Violence Law last year" Yes but try asking a official what the law does exactly & that seem’s to be a question they have little insight on. There are still scores of women & men being abused by someone they know very well & the law is not being utilized at all. My understanding of the law is that it allows for the courts to deal with any abuse matter without the victim being present at all. Alot of these???? concerning this law.  

  4. Anonymous says:

    With a seafaring heritage where Women ran things, I hardly think we have an issue here with women being disadvantaged.

    In fact, historically and still today, it is indeed our men who are marginalised. Take a look at our crime statistics and one will see it not young women committing the majority of crimes but rather our young men. Could it not be extrapolated that this may be attributed to the absence of strong male influences in their lives?
    Where is the office for Men to go to for help? There is one for women. Surely focus therefore needs not only to be on women, but also on men for us to have a healthy society.

    • Sarah says:

      Actually what used to be the "women’s resource centre" is now the "Family resource Centre" and it is equally available for male victims of abuse. It has already happened.

  5. laura says:

    so are men and children!