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The Missing Strength in the Fight against Domestic Violence.

Good Day people of St. Martin.
Last Friday, St. Martin joined the world in commemorating the "International Day for Awareness towards the Eradication of Violence against Women and Girls." Several major local organizations made sure to contribute to the awareness of the above, including the eradication of "Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence."

I had the honor of being invited to several events about violence against women and girls as a panelist or speaker. I noticed that all these events were completely organized and attended to by women, exclusively. Men were almost non-existent in the audience. It was as if the idea of men being involved in events like these were considered taboo. While sitting with an old classmate, who was also invited to the same 3 events, I wondered why? Why are women so appreciative of me and Jamal accepting these invitations and showing up?

Throughout the panel discussions, we have learned that the Caribbean as a region has more instances of violence against women than the global average. Women were admonished to report their abusers; instead, what was evident is more, women protected the abusers.
As the conversations went back and forth, it became very obvious to me why we were invited and what was missing.

What was and is still missing in the fight against violence against women and girls is the men. It's evident men are not a part of the fight at all.

Where are the male organizations speaking out against domestic violence against women and girls? Where are the churches, the sports clubs, the service clubs, and the fraternities? Why aren't groups of men speaking up against domestic violence and respect for women and girls, and why aren't men at the forefront? This is not as much a women's problem, but everyone's problem, MEN included.

Traditionally, women and girls see us (their men, their fathers, their brothers) as their protectors. Are we really protectors? Are we protecting our women and girls? Most men would proudly say: "I'm protecting mine," but is that true?

We are definitely not protecting our women and girls when we laugh at jokes and sing songs about a woman being beaten or mistreated... We as men are definitely not protecting our own daughters when we share a video on social media of any woman being mistreated. This might read harshly, but we need to realize our part in all of this.
Even if a man has never abused or would never ever ever ever think they would abuse a woman or girl but he allows another man around him to tell a story of mistreating a woman, that man is not protecting his daughter or sister or mother from future disrespect by other men.

What about mistakes, we all make them. The Caribbean cultural norm of "If he doesn't bang me, he doesn't love me" needs to be brought into context as well. We have for too long allowed, hidden, and protected violence against women in our culture. The male's integrity is protected, while the female is told to move on and to not aggravate men again. The women are told not to wear short dresses, don't speak up or else. The sad truth is that these statements are sometimes told by other women they trust, too.

Dear Caribbean, it is 2022. Let us forgive ourselves for allowing violence in our culture against our own. Let's collectively change our mindset to protect our own. Caribbean men, you know how we feel about our mothers and grandmothers, we know there is nothing manly or macho about abusing those we are supposed to protect.

We need to immediately begin to change this "Caribbean" way of dealing with violence against women and girls so our next generation of young boys and girls dont continue experiencing this nonsense.

We, as men, can not think we are protecting the women closest to us by allowing the disrespect of women anywhere else. This is a tough thing to realize. Most men would dread having to "pull up" another man if being told a story about how the man had to use violence to "handle his woman" or "put her in her place."

Caribbean men, imagine you have to stand up to your brother, your friend, your father, your faithful pastor, a police officer, a work colleague, a neighbor, a man you respect, about something that most men would consider not your business. Well, if he is that comfortable saying that around you, then he made it your business bro, be a man. You are not protecting women and girls (including yours) if you keep letting it slide and say nothing. Why? Because by not standing up for that woman, we are not standing up for every woman, including our own sisters, girlfriends, wives, daughters, mothers, aunts, and grandmothers. By laughing as if it's a joke, or feeling a sense of machismo, while hiding behind the onus of "cause that's our caribbean culture" we allow another man to continue thinking violence against any woman is ok, acceptable, funny, or macho.

Men, its never too late to change your perspective on this even if you as a man have committed violence to a woman or girl in the past, if you are sorry, if you feel you were wrong, let us redirect this karma into making a difference in other men and boys lives.

Times change, it is 2022 and everybody has a phone. The violence that would have been hidden 20 years ago is now trending on the timeline, 1 act of violence can be seen, laughed at, and shared by millions of people influencing their own sensitivity about violence. Friday morning on the day, I read a news article about a young man shooting his pregnant girlfriend in the belly, and 2 hours after that saw a picture captioned that another man had thrown his companion out of a moving car, in St. Martin.

There's a lot we #asmen need to talk about, a lot of healing that still needs to happen, most women have no idea whatsoever of what we are going through because we hide it so swaggy. We need to work on that. But let us not forget, Caribbean men, all around the universe are well known as the subspecies with the sweetest words, the best cooks, and the most romantic accents, and for being the best lovers the world about, it is time we change our mindsets, learn to forgive ourselves and each other, begin to hold each other accountable and add 'best protectors of women and girls to that list. #bigmanting We can't protect ours if we can't protect all.

Alston Lourens
A Caribbean Husband, Father, Brother, Son, Grandson, Nephew, Godson, Colleague, Cousin, and friend to many Caribbean women.


Alston A. Lourens


Apologies for the slavery past without reparatory justice are no apologies

Dear Prime Minister Rutte,
In memory and honor of our spiritual and courageous African ancestors who fought against oppression for our freedom, we, UCF, D'HERO1 and the Reparatory Justice Cooperative Alliance request your kind attention to the following.
1. Earlier this month (d.d. 3 November 2019) it was announced that the cabinet would soon apologize for the slavery past. A majority of the House of Representatives has insisted on this after a visit by a parliamentary delegation to Suriname, Curaçao, and Bonaire;
2. In recent days, various media have reported on the intention of the cabinet to apologize for the Dutch slavery past on Monday 19 December;
3. According to sources from The Hague, seven members of the cabinet will travel to Suriname and the Caribbean part of the Kingdom where they will give speeches in which they will express regret on behalf of the State of the Netherlands. The speeches will all be delivered on the same day in the Netherlands and in the former colonies that had to deal with slavery;
4. Prime Minister Rutte will apologize in the Netherlands. Minister Weerwind (Legal Protection) will travel to the Surinamese capital Paramaribo as a descendant of enslaved people;
1 Ubuntu Connected Front en Decades of HEROES for the Elimination of Racism and Oppression
Ubuntu Connected Front | The Netherlands
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | www.ubuntuconnectedfront.com
Facebook www.facebook.com/ubuntucf | Twitter @IkbenUCF | Instagram @ikbenucf
5. State Secretary Van der Burg (Asylum) goes to Aruba, Minister Van Gennip (Social Affairs) to Bonaire, State Secretary Van Huffelen (Kingdom Relations) to Curaçao, State Secretary Van Rij (Finance) to St. Eustatius, State Secretary Van Ooijen (Welfare) to Saba and Minister Kuipers (Public Health) to Sint Maarten;
6. The apologies are not accompanied by reparations or direct financial compensation for the descendants of enslaved people;
7. Despite the fact that the content of the above messages has not (yet) been confirmed by the cabinet, the intention of the government and the cabinet to apologize for the Dutch slavery past after almost 150 years is in itself a good gesture;
8. Our thanks go in the first place to all persons and organizations who have committed themselves in recent years in the context of the slavery file and making excuses and to all who had no doubt that this moment would arrive;
9. In view of these developments, we recall on behalf of UCF, D'HERO, and the Reparatory Justice Cooperation Alliance that the Netherlands has a long history of Afro-phobia (anti-black racism), colonialism, slavery, and the otherwise oppression of Africans and citizens of African descent;
10. We agree that slavery and the slave trade (including the trans-Atlantic slave trade) were declared a crime against humanity by the UN in 2001;
11. We point to the fact that the racist ideas that underlie slavery and the discrimination that characterized slavery can still be seen in society today;
12. We emphasize that without remedial measures, which explicitly include reparations, the negative consequences of colonialism and transatlantic slavery, which are still present today, in particular for citizens of African descent, will continue to exist;
13. We emphasize that apologies for the Dutch slavery past are only of value if they are expressed unconditionally (without restrictions on reparatory justice). Apologies without ethical, historical, educational, financial, socio-economic, or cultural reparation are no apologies, especially when it is taken into account that the negative effects of that slavery past are still felt today in Dutch society, the Caribbean (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius, and Saba) and the Republic of Suriname.
14. We point out to the current government and cabinet that, despite the fact that they have been made aware of the need for legal reparatory justice for many years, they are partly responsible for allowing the various negative effects of the slavery past to continue to have an effect in the present;
15. We would like to point out to the government and cabinet that other matters that stand in the way of successful apologies at this stage, such as remedial measures (including payments), the crime scenes, the role of the current cabinet, the role of the prime minister, the position and possible role of the Koning, the proposed role of Minister Weerwind as the descendant of an enslaved person, the impact of the slavery past, etc.;
Ubuntu Connected Front | The Netherlands
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | www.ubuntuconnectedfront.com
Facebook www.facebook.com/ubuntucf | Twitter @IkbenUCF | Instagram @ikbenucf
16. We are well aware that this is not the time to delve into the complexities, underlying problems, and possible solutions of making unconditional excuses for the Dutch slavery past;
17. We assume that if, as appears from the messages, you as a member of the government and cabinet intend to apologize for the Dutch slavery past on December 19, 2022, you wish to do so successfully. In order to achieve this, we have tried to make it clear that the government and cabinet will have to take more time to make the intention of apologizing for all involved in the spirit of Ubuntu a success.
Ubuntu (I am because we are)!
Sincerely / Kind regards,
Mr. R.P. Vaarnold LL.M.
President UCF
Director D'HERO
06-12131348
P.O. Box 94564, 1090 GN Amsterdam
A copy of this letter will be sent to relevant stakeholders and various media.

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