Tessa Collins and Caroline Mullen from Pavee Point VAW Programme are proud to be part of this campaign and would like to update you on our activities over the last 10 days.
We continue to disseminate the 16 days campaign facts daily to our friends and colleagues to ensure that the information is getting out there. As we mentioned in our opening blog, we would be participating in the events for Traveller Focus Week (TFW) which started on 30th November including a celebration of Pavee Point’s 25th Anniversary. Where possible we linked TFW activities and 16 days of action activities to focus on the issues of VAW and to highlight the barriers facing Traveller women who may want to leave a violent relationship. In their daily lives, Traveller women experience triple discrimination; as women, as Traveller women, and as members of the Traveller community. The layer on top of that for a Traveller women who wants to leave a violent relationship, is the added burden of leaving her extended family, friends and culture behind. The weight of making that decision can never be underestimated. Pavee Point Travellers Centre, in consultation with AKIDWA and the NCCRI produced an information brochure in 2005 which is still relevant today, and a useful resource for understanding some of the issues. It is available on our website www.paveepoint.ie and is entitled “Challenging the misconceptions of violence against minority ethnic women, including Travellers, in Ireland: An information brochure for service providers”.
And so to the campaign – some of our activities included:
Day 1 Began for us with a coffee morning in Pavee Point where we invited members of the Roma community (men and women), some women from AKIDWA, the women of the Primary Health Care for Traveller Project, and all staff from Pavee Point for a coffee and a great pampering session from the Body Shop (free of charge). It was a relaxing morning which gave the groups space to meet and get to know each other better. There were about 60 people present on the day and we hope we can build on these relationships to work together on the issues of VAW in 2010. The sharing between the African women and the Traveller women on the day was particularly striking. We have also committed to working with the Roma group in 2010 on VAW issues. The serious part of the morning was to highlight the campaign – Breaking the Silence 16 days opposing Violence Against women. We tied a line of red bows for the 159 women who died violently in Ireland since 1996, lit a candle and held a minute’s silence to remember them. Thanks to all participated and to those who generously donated “time and things” to make the day successful – unfortunately they are too numerous to mention here.
Day 8 We were delighted to participate in an information session with staff from the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre during TFW, to discuss some of the issues and barriers that stop Traveller women from using helpline services. It was a productive meeting and we hope to continue to build on this relationship and involve Traveller PHC projects in the new year.
We also attended the “Key to Breaking the Silence” event organised by the North Inner City Action Group in Mountjoy Square to remember the 159 women who died since 1996. It was a very moving tribute and we stood for them in the driving rain, which made it all the more poignant.
Day 9 The Pavee Point VAW programme continued to keep a focus on the 16 days campaign throughout TFW. We believe that our small contributions have been useful in continuing to “break the silence” within the Traveller community on VAW. For example when we attended the “Pavee Point Anniversary Seminar – Revisiting the Status of Travellers in Irish Society 25 Years On”, we took the opportunity to make and distribute lilac ribbons on the day to highlight the Freedom From Pornography campaign.
Day 13 We also attended the one day conference and launch of “Rape and Justice in Ireland A national Study of Survivor, Prosecutor and Court Responses to Rape” by Conor Hanly, with Dr. Deirdre Healy and Stacey Scriver. This conference and book launch commissioned by RCNI is important because it increases our knowledge on what is happening in Ireland today in relation to rape and justice.
Tessa Collins has also recorded a 10 min slot for Near FM 16 days campaign to highlight some of the issues relating to VAW for Traveller women.
We feel hopeful that in 2010 we will be able to raise the issue more and continue to “break the silence” throughout the year. Pavee Point Drugs Specific Initiative, Bray Travellers CDP, Daish and Bray Local Drugs task Force launched “Pavees Whiden Drug misuse within the Traveller Community” yesterday. It is tough, honest, and produced to aid discussion, address some of the problems, and educate Travellers and Traveller organisations around the country on this serious issue that is destroying lives. This DVD is a huge step in breaking the silence on the difficult issue of drug misuse in the Traveller community. The Traveller community is demonstrating its desire to deal with tough issues such as drugs and internal conflict – VAW is another of these tough issues.