Coalition against domestic violence holds candlelight vigil for 8 victims

THE Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence on Friday held a candlelight vigil at the Hyatt Regency Saipan garden to honor the memory of eight women who were killed in domestic violence incidents.

 “It is extremely important to do this to remember the victims and to remind the community that we have lost women to domestic violence,” said Maisie B. Tenorio, the coalition’s executive director.

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This was the coalition’s 24th annual vigil.

She said the coalition started the annual vigil in 1994 in  honor of  four women who were victims of domestic violence.

Tenorio said they have no data indicating whether domestic violence cases have increased or decreased. “But over the years, we have added more names to the ceremony. Now, we have eight.”

The annual event, she said, is an opportunity for partner organizations and community members to recommit to the movement “so that we won’t be adding names in the following years.”

She added, “It is achievable that one day we can have a violence-free community.”

Through the annual candlelight vigil, Tenorio believes that they are helping increase awareness about the issue. “People are having more conversations about it. We have definitely brought more meaning to the movement because it is an issue for all of us and it is not just an issue about actual physical violence although that is definitely a component of it.”

Domestic violence is a silent issue, she said. “But people are rising up to the challenge of speaking about it. We are seeing so much more awareness and people are speaking out, victims are getting help, families are reaching out, neighbors are calling police officers. We are definitely seeing more willingness to help a family member and other loved ones who are going through it. We hope that the community continues to see domestic violence as a community issue, as a human rights issue, and as a public health issue.”

The candlelight vigil, which started at 5:30 p.m., honored Francisca Benavente Camacho, Rosalia Tomol Teigita, Erlinse Cabrera Santos, Leonor Salunga Miranda, Vicky Ann Maratita Igitol, Joanna S. Vitug, Ana Maria Pialur Limes and June Arriola Sandbergen.

In her brief remarks, Assistant Attorney General Teri Tenorio said the candlelight vigil is about remembering the women whose lives were taken by domestic violence. “We honor their memory by saying ‘you are not forgotten,’ and the reason that you are not here has not been forgotten.’”

She added that the annual event provides “a reminder of the seriousness of domestic violence on our island, a healing opportunity for the families and the community, and an occasion to hope for peaceful future.”

 “We will continue to remember those who no longer have a voice, by bringing awareness about this culture of violence,” the assistant AG said.

She said outreach and education can bring awareness to the community and help those who suffer silently and are afraid to speak out. “Bringing awareness to the forefront can break down the stigmas associated with domestic violence and help build and foster a culture of safety and support for victims of abuse.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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