An open letter supporting Gender, Youth and Child Development Minister Verna St Rose-Greaves has been signed by more than 30 representatives of regional non-governmental organisations. The signatories represent members of the recently formed CatchAFyah Caribbean Feminist Network. The letter, published on their Web site on May 31, praised St Rose-Greaves for advocating a human rights approach to the national dialogue on homosexuality and abortion.
"We are...pleased at your public show of support for the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and the rights of the LGBTQ community. We recognise the tremendous courage it takes to speak publicly on issues that are controversial and that people would rather ignore."
The statement said St Rose-Greaves'comments demonstrated "a commitment to the rights of marginalised groups that far outweigh any potential opposition." At a stakeholder meeting on the draft national gender policy last month, St Rose-Greaves said disagreements on these issues had kept the gender policy in political limbo.
CatchAFyah also supported St Rose-Greaves' stance on child abuse. "We join you in condemning the lack of adequate response to all forms of child abuse and in particular the sexual abuse of Caribbean girls and boys. We lend our collective voices to breaking the silence on this issue and we pledge to work in our communities, nationally and regionally to ensure that Caribbean children's right to life free of abuse is made reality."
Local organisations that signed the letter include the Silver Lining Foundation and the Free Pride Foundation Project. The letter has been signed by organisations and individuals from Antigua, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Kitts & Nevis, and St Vincent & the Grenadines.
CatchAFyah was founded in May after a two-day conference organised by Tonya Haynes of Code Red for Gender Justice in Barbados. The network describes itself as a group of activists, artists, researchers and other like-minded people who "work for social and economic justice and empowerment, particularly gender equity and women's rights."