BY BEN BILUA
JUSTICE Maelyn Bird says there is a great need to educate women of their rights and freedom from violence.
She made the statement during the Women in Law Breakfast which was held at Heritage Park last week.
“I lament the lack of awareness by many women to this day of their rights to freedom from violence, and their rights to protection from violence.
“I see the need for much more work to be done in this area.
“This awareness must meet women where they are, not just those of us lucky to have an education,” Justice Bird said.
She said most violence cases are family related and it demonstrates that more awareness will help more women and girls to know their rights and at the same time willing to bring perpetrators to court.
“As a judge on the High Court, I have become increasingly aware of and concerned by cases of sexual assault, many of them perpetrated by family members against children.
“The fact that people are coming forward to report the cases is really important, as is their willingness to testify in court,” Justice Bird said.
She said collective support is needed to address violence against women and girls as police and courts cannot address the issue alone.
Justice Bird said more focus should be on preventing the crimes with necessary actions.
“As a lawyer, I have also been confronted by the prevalence of domestic violence, and the needs of women who seek protection from domestic violence.
“And in fact, it has not been just the experience of my clients, but also me. I stand before you as someone who has survived domestic violence.
“With these personal and professional experiences, I was so pleased to see the elected leaders of our country take the important step in 2014 to pass the Family Protection Act.
“This is a very welcome and important reform. But, as I am sure many of you in this room will agree, enacting a law does not automatically lead to the effective implementation and enforcement,” she said.
Justice Bird calls on stakeholders to work closely with the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, including the Justice Sector Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Strategy, and the review of the Family Protection Act.