Caribbean women dying in domestic, other forms of violence
-action groups
Stabroek News
November 25, 2006

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The Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA), on the occasion of International Day Against Violence Against Women, said violence is snuffing out the lives of Caribbean women.

CAFRA, in a press release, said a recent World Bank Report said 20% of Caribbean adolescent males carry firearms and the rate of gang violence is high. Also, throughout the region, newspaper headlines tell the tale of women being killed by their husbands when they attempt to leave abusive relationships, "As male privilege and government helplessness continue their onslaught on women's livesā€¦"

The report also said that the onset of sexual initiation in the Caribbean is the earliest in the world, except for Africa where early sexual experience takes place within marriage. Also, a noted consultant paediatrician said in St Vincent and the Grenadines at least 90% of teenage mothers who give birth at a hospital are impregnated by an older man or relative.

CAFRA said its 16 chapters, which span the English, Spanish, Dutch and French speaking Caribbean, focus on eliminating discrimination against women and protecting women's rights. The groups said in 1979, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). CEDAW is often described as an International Bill of Rights for women as the Convention defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets the agenda for national action to end such discrimination.

The convention was the culmination of more than 30 years of work by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, a body established in 1946 to monitor the situation of women and to promote women's rights. In 2006, after almost another 30 years, "extensive discrimination" against women continues to exist within the legal system by persons inside and outside the home, by organizations and enterprises. The Beijing Platform for Action which governments signed on to in 1995 drew attention to the 12 areas of concern affecting women. These areas include the persistent burden of poverty, unequal access to education, violence, armed conflict, inequality in economic structures, inequality in the sharing of power, insufficient mechanisms, human rights violations, stereotyping in the media, the environment and the girl child.

CAFRA is a non-governmental organisation which aims "to celebrate and channel the collective power of women for individual and societal transformation, thus creating a climate in which social justice is realised."