University of Aruba dresses in purple against gender-based violence

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The University of Aruba together with the Foundation Against Relational Violence showcased the theatre play ‘Stop the Beating’ with the goal of informing the community and creating awareness regarding child abuse.

The play ‘Stop the Beating’ has a goal of breaking the silence and starting a more open conversation on the topic of child abuse. Normally a theatre play in this form will be more focused on showing the story of the victim, however, in this case emphasis is also put on understanding the story of the aggressor and understanding the pattern of child abuse. The organizers believe profoundly that art can educate and create awareness in the community of Aruba in order to end the taboo regarding child abuse on our island.

The play was created by Archell Thompson and Jettie Medema. It stars Sophie Noguera, only 17 years old. This project was executed to commemorate International Children’s Day, but also the International Day Against Gender-Based Violence, in collaboration with the department of the Social Work & Development study at the University of Aruba.

Janice Tromp, senior student in Social Work & Development at the University of Aruba explained to our reporter that the department came with this initiative to bring awareness at the university, so that other students can also know what violence means. “Because it is a topic of which we don’t speak too much in Aruba, it is something that is behind closed doors. Basically we are breaking this stigma regarding domestic abuse.”

As social workers, they stand for the people who cannot use their voices. Many times, victims are afraid of speaking and come forward because of the thoughts and opinions of others. “From our side, we advocate for this group so that they can feel empowered and depend on us. This is basically the reason why we came up with this activity”, Tromp pointed out.

Aside from the play, there was also a T-shirt exhibition at the entrance of the university that represented the story of each victim of gender-based violence. “Each T-shirt has a different message. We have some that are from adults but also from children, with messages that the victim can express. For example, one says ‘not allowed to touch’, which represents maybe sexual or physical abuse. This way we highlight what is happening”, Tromp said.

Sasha Geerman, of the Department of Social Affairs was present during this activity to give support to the students at the University of Aruba, and she explained that they joined forces with the Foundation Against Relational Violence on the international day against all forms of violence against women and girls. They also joined the campaign of 16 days of activism worldwide, which will end on the 10th of December with the International Day of Human Rights.

Also available was a QR code for people to do a self-test regarding violence, but also on how the person feels. After the play, they had an open dialogue with those presents on themes regarding family law, violence within the family, and toxic masculinity in Aruba.

As a worker in the Department of Social Affairs, Geerman mentioned that this is a topic that they confront, and they have a section of social workers and couple and family therapists. A few days ago, precisely, they were mentioning how in many cases that present involving couples, there is one or more degrees of violence involved – however, this doesn’t mean that help is unavailable.

They see cases that received guidance and can overcome the period of violence. “This gives us the assurance that we can provide help to those who are open to receive it”, Geerman finalized.