Latest — 27 February 2019 — by Rowland A. Parks
Activist Audrey Matura stages solidarity demonstration for Wesley College student

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Feb. 25, 2019– Attorney and community activist, Audrey Matura held a solidarity demonstration in front of Wesley College this afternoon in support of a female student who had become a victim of cyber-bullying when a video of her dressed in her school uniform and engaged in a sexual act went viral when it was posted on Facebook.

In a statement to the media, Matura said the demonstration has three components. “We are launching a petition to the government to ensure that issues of pornography are dealt with legislatively, socially and through institution.

“We are also asking that women not be victimized because of their sexuality. So we are asking the government to comply with something that they have already agreed to do internationally,” she said.

Matura also launched a new organization: Stand Against Sexual Abuse &Exploitation (SASEA) for which a membership drive will be initiated.

On the question of the student who was victimized on social media, Matura applauded the school for the stand that it has taken in not throwing out the young girl, who is scheduled to graduate this year.

Matura also disclosed that the young girl is getting professional counseling.

Matura explained that part of the movement is to bring about awareness.  She explained that in the past, some young women had committed suicide after their nude pictures were circulated among their peers.

Peter Lacy, Jr., explained that he had a classmate who committed suicide in Standard 5, just because his parents were having a domestic dispute.

Lacy also explained that some years ago, a woman who was involved in politics was photographed in a compromising position and her picture was plastered on the front page of a newspaper. That is a form of bullying, he said.

“So it’s not just cyber-bullying. We need to stand up against any kind of bullying,” he said.

Matura said that the society really needs the men to come forward and take a stand on this issue. She explained that “what we are dealing with here today is nothing new. It has happened before.”

Matura said she is tired of us saying that our young people are the future, and we are damaging them.

Matura was asked what she wants Belizeans to focus on with this demonstration.

“I want them to focus on two main things. We are signing a petition that deals with two issues. There is a convention on the rights of the child; Article 34 specifically deals with pornography and sexual exploitation of children. The government already signed and ratified those things. They need to deal with the domestic legislation, programs, budgeting, whatever they need to curb that.

“The second one is that we also signed the convention on all forms of discrimination against women. One of them is to ensure that private institutions can’t victimize you as women,” Matura replied.

Matura then explained that there was a young woman who was fired from the Atlantic Bank because of nude pictures of her going around. Under the old Administrative Law, you could only bring a claim against Government institutions for violating you, but now, under CEDAW, you can bring an action against a private company.

Matura explained that under the Constitution of Belize, you have a right to privacy.

It was pointed out to her, however, that while that may be in the Constitution, there are no specific laws dealing with privacy, especially in this age of social media.

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Deshawn Swasey

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