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Jamaican Adventists March in Support of Enditnow

By Nigel Coke,

With shouts of “End it now! End it now!” hundreds of Adventist women, children (and some men) from across Jamaica marched through the town of Ocho Rios and rallied the call for support to an end to violence against women and children.

Enditnow is a global campaign to raise awareness and advocate for the end of violence against women and girls around the world. It aims to mobilize Adventists around the world and invites other community groups to join in to resolve this worldwide issue.

A little girl sits with her placard calling for and end to violence against women and children during the launch of enditnow in Ocho Rios, St. Ann on Saturday, October 29, 2011.

“I am happy that we are here today and we are joining hands with all the other groups – the government and other faith-based members -- and we are saying we are tired of it,” said Mrs. Lorraine Vernal, Women’s and Children’s Ministries Director of the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (JAMU). “You may say what can I do? You came out today, you are standing, you are listening, you may be watching via the internet. When you hear violence perpetrating next door, don’t say ‘Informer we will dead”, say something, you can do it anonymously. We need to end it now!”

The march by the banner-bearing group clad in purple tops and led by the Pathfinders Marching Band took place on Saturday, October 29, 2011. It was part of a Women’s weekend retreat organized by the central region of the Adventist Church and supported by the other regions of JAMU. 

Hundreds of banner-bearing Adventist women march through the town of Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Jamaica with shouts of "enditnow, enditnow" on Saturday, October 29, 2011, as part of a women's retreat held in Parish. The march ended at the Buckfield Park where a rally took place.

“Prevention is always the best way,” said Attorney-at-Law Lori-Anne Montaque, who did a short presentation on Legal Issues and Abuse.  “There are enough laws now on our books to protect women and children against abuse; however, I have seen far too many of them (children and women) come to court on matters of sexual abuse and it sometimes takes months of counseling before they can speak to the issues for which they are brought to court.”
Seventh-day Adventists affirm the dignity and worth of each human being and decry all forms of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.

Vernal added, “We need to protect our children and through the Child Care and Welfare Act the duty is on each adult to protect every child. You don’t have to be his or her mother or father, the point is that we must protect our children, because in protecting our children we are protecting our future.”

Mrs. Loraine Vernal (with microphone), Women's and Children's Ministries Director of Jamaica Union Conference appeals to those in her hearing to do something about violence against women and children.

“There is need for a re-socialization of people,” Montaque added. “Abuse occurs when people have differences and various influences and frustration with life. I hope that through this launch and the awareness that it has brought, we will see some positive changes.”

With the Government’s plans to organize events around the fight against violence against women and girls from November 25 to December 10, 2011, Mrs. Heather-Dawn Small, Women’s Ministries Director for the Adventist World Church, in her address to the gathering at Buckfield Park, called on Church members get involved. 

“We need to get involved,” said Mrs. Small. “If there is a march we need put on our purple shirts and get out there with our hand-held signs. We need to get in the communities, get signatures, and inform people of this particular issue.  We cannot consider ourselves to be children of God and stand by quietly. We have done that for too long; and while we do that, women and children are dying.  By our silence we only help the problem to grow.”

Mrs. Heather Dawn Small, Women's Ministries Director of the Adventist World Church appeals to members to get involve and do whatever is necessary to end violence against women and children during a rally at the Buckfield Park in Ocho Rios, St. Ann on Saturday, October 29, 2011.

Mrs. Vernal presented Mrs. Small with hundreds of supporting signatures to the Enditnow campaign. The World Church seeks to gather at least one million signatures to be sent to the United Nations (UN). 

“We have collected more than 600,000 signatures so far” said Mrs. Small. “We are taking it to the United Nations because the Adventist Church has never made a public stand on this issue and we believe it is time.” 

The campaign which extends to more than 200 countries and territories, was launched in October 2009 in a partnership between the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), a prominent humanitarian organization, and the Department of Women's Ministries of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.