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T&T joined the rest of the world on Valentine’s Day yesterday in observing the One Billion Rising for Justice call, when members of the InterClub of T&T gathered at Nicolas Towers, Port-of-Spain, to speak out against violence and other ills plaguing the society. One Billion Rising for Justice is the brainchild of Eve Ensler, Tony award-winning playwright (The Vagina Monologues) and founder of V-Day, an organisation that seeks to end violence against women and girls everywhere.
Among those who delivered feature addresses were head of the Victims and Witness Support Unit of the Police Service Margaret Sampson-Browne, chief executive officer of the Adult Literacy Tutors Association (ALTA) Paula Lucie-Smith and Adrian Alexander, restorative justice advocate. Sampson-Browne said it was imperative that women, whether of class or societal positions to raise their voices against violence as this was a powerful weapon.
She said the unit which began in 2008 has 15 officers and was expected to double in number. These officers, however, were not members of the Police Service but civilians who hold first degrees in a social science including social work or psychology. “We provide services to all victims of crime. We are not investigative but we answer to the commissioner of police,” Sampson-Browne added.
Lucie-Smith, who touched on the issue of illiteracy in schools, said in the four years she spent as a teacher in the public school system she witnessed students reaching Form Five who were unable to properly read and decipher home work. “At that point I reached my tolerance for injustice. Some were minor which was the wrong colour footwear.
“The greatest injustice in our education system is graduating students without being able to read. We live in an age of information and that information is written...to access almost everything you fill out a form. Readers rule the 21st century,” Lucie-Smith added. She said after 20 years in adult literacy, the consistent message which came from adults who could not read was that they felt “left out.”
“They feel that they are always missing out on something that everybody else is getting. This is dangerous since social harmony relies upon all persons to feel they are part of society not outside it,” Lucie-Smith urged.