In previous years, chants of "End it Now! End it Now!" would be heard in the streets of Montego Bay as scores of women and men from across the West Jamaica Conference territory would gather for the annual March calling for the end of violence against women. However, this year, due to Covid-19 restrictions, persons tuned in to the Annual End-It-Now Summit via Zoom on August 29, 2021.
The programme, which was hosted by the Women, Children and Adolescents’ Ministries Department of West Jamaica Conference, is part of a wider mandate by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, that decries all forms of physical, sexual and emotional abuse and family violence.
Guest speakers at the programme examined topics such as substance abuse and the impact and implications of physical abuse.
In her address, Dr. Lorraine Vernal, Women and Children’s Ministries Director of Jamaica Union mentioned that in order for us to mitigate violence in our nation, we have to take responsibility as a country. Removing ourselves from the problem is not the answer.
“We have to accept and acknowledge that we have a problem which is of our making and we'll have to help to address it -"End-It-Now" begins with me". Vernal said.
Substance misuse is one of the leading factors that contribute to women being abused. Substance Abuse Officer from the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), Ms. Suzanne Brown, explained that there is a strong connection between drug use and violence and as such, individuals should refrain from participating in binge drinking and other forms of dangerous drug related activities.
"The data shows that intimate partner violence against female partners is 2-4 times higher among men with alcohol problems than other men. We also notice that the lifetime prevalence of violence among women increases when they have a partner who uses recreational drugs at least once per week.”
Inspector Franklin Hunter from the Mt. Salem Police Station in Montego Bay also spoke to the issue and its impact during the summit.
“I’m happy to be a part of this initiative, joining and saying to the wider society that all forms of violence must end.”
Inspector Hunter also emphasized that physical abuse has a great negative impact on children.
“We have a lot of work to do in terms of where our males are concerned,” he said. “Men are seen as the leaders of the home and they sometimes use that as a power-driven tool to batter children. Based on my position and where I am stationed, I have seen many cases where girls as young as 4-years-old end up dead because of abuse experienced in the home.”
The organized campaign against violence and abuse is necessary for the public to understand the Church's position on the matter.
"This was a program to join forces with every other person who shares our sentiment that it is indeed time to end the abuse in our land. People are crying out and we have to continue our outcry, so our stance can be clear that it is time to end it now", commented Mrs. Carol Smythe-James, who leads the Department of Women, Children and Adolescents' Ministries at the West Jamaica Conference.