In an effort to raise awareness about violence against children, Mitchell’s Plain residents converged on the Town Centre on Saturday, calling on people to stand up and unite against violence on children.
Scores of people, including children, braved the chilly weather to support the event organised by the Mitchell’s Plain Crisis Forum. Before the event, marshals asked people to sign a petition which would be handed to the state prosecutor.
MPCF co-ordinator Joanie Fredericks said their objective was to raise awareness about violence against children and to support the victims and their families. “We want people to know that the raping and killing of children is not only happening here (Mitchell’s Plain). This is a nationwide phenomenon and we encourage people to come out and speak about it”, she said.
Ms Fredericks also dismissed the perception that these incidents only happened in disadvantaged communities and emphasised that crime had no colour. She also appealed to the sex offenders’ families to stop hiding them and to report them to the police.
Ms Fredericks also expressed her disappointment that only a few men had come out to support the march. “They are afraid of coming out in public, maybe they are afraid of being called by names”, she said.
MPCF mini marshal Mughamad Fatigh Isaacs, 16, from Eastridge, said he joined the forum because he was inspired by the commitment and dedication shown by residents in his community.
“I was motivated by the spirit of community members, the unity that they show when they are helping to search for a missing person.
“I decided to join it (MPCF) as part of giving back to the community”, he said, calling on his peers to join the forum in their efforts to combat crime.
But, he said: “We are not fighting crime only, there is fun also here. There is a dance group and others are singing.”
A teacher at Cedar High School in Rocklands, Shaheeda Duncan, said crime was a reality and that “we need to stand together and be united to fight crime”.
“Our children can’t even go outside because they are scared,” she said. “And they (children) can’t sit in front of a television or PlayStation all the time. They need to go out to play,” she said.
Ms Duncan complimented the MPCF and urged the community to support the forum. “We can’t lose hope. We need to go back to the basics where ‘your child was my child and my child was your child’.
“I might join the forum in future, who knows,” she said.
Roger Phillips 42, from Rocklands, added: “This is a great initiative. Some of the children are raped and killed by a family friend, uncle or cousin. And we need to unite and say ‘no’ to rapists and murderers”, he said. “We (men) must stand up and be an example in our communities.”