The value of PETAL Belizean Lesbian and Bisexual Women Conversations

30th November, 2013

 The work of Promoting Empowerment Through Awareness for Lesbian and Bisexual Women (PETAL), interventions called "Conversations" is a concept started by Marla Simone Hill which seeks to highlights the nuances of issues impacting the LB  women in Belize.  Conversations, tends to look at Sexual and Sexual and Reproductive Rights issues in broad terms, its participatory and self-generating in its approach. Inspired by the lack of visibility of women in the current human rights dialogue, she has become a powerful force leading LB women in this groundbreaking intervention  to address the nuances of cervical cancer, relationship violence and section 53 education among other issues. Proof in the value of the intervention is reflected in the cases below which indicate the intervention is just touching surface of LB women  social concerns..


We don't often think of rights violations occurring among Lesbian and Bisexual women in Belize, but incidence of abuse do occur in immigration, in relationships and in the community. As the United Belize Advocacy Movement encourages capacity building through conversation among Lesbian and Bisexual (LB) women we have found rights-violations occurring differently in the community. The reality remains that while discrimination might be different, violence remains a threat to all. Here is an example of a young woman injured in 2012 in a little village in northern Belize. While family member put a beating on the fellow, the fact remains that most persons from the LB community do not have that kind of social capital to challenge intimidation.

In another case, on 17th March , 2013, a young women reported being punched on the left side of her face at the Queen Street Police Station around 4:00 o’clock in the morning. The officer was a creole male about 5”3 to 5’9, dark brown in regular uniform. To add insult to injury there were 4 other officers who was present, but just laughed. The partner 20 witness the punch and she tried to intervened, because she felt her partner was going to be punched again, so she sought to defend her partner, by hitting the officer who blocked her and eventually grabbed her roughly and in the process of being dragged by the arm was hit across the right of the face. After the 2nd hit, the officer walked outside the station. The mom was eventually called to pick up her daughter because the partner was not finished making her statement. After the mom arrived and consulted one of the officers, she was told that they should just drop everything because one of the women tried to assault an officer. All this happened after one of the girls phone was stolen and they decided to pursue the robber who was on a tiny bike.

The individual reported that she was robbed of a cell phone and shared,"The robbery happened at the corner of Baymen and 9th Street and happened around minutes to 2 o’clock in the morning. We pursued the robbers with the help of friends who picked up us while in pursuit and who helped us fine them. In a hurry, they left behind their little bikes which we took as evidence because they could not move fast with it. We took the bikes to my partner house and decided to go to the police station to make our report on the robbery. We were taken to the house where the bikes were and waited while my partner changed her clothes, the police wanted me to go alone, but I said no and that when their cooperative mood changed. While in the car, the driver of the car was listening to me over the phone talking to my sister who works at the hospital as I expressed my frustration that they were not listening to our concerns about scouting out the place to see if they could fine the robbers. While talking, one of the officer kept saying things like” Da Good!” referring to my comment and other words like “ nobady tell unu no fu be outa unu home. So I place the phone over the officer ear, where he said, “Just do it!” “Do it!” “Do it!” and I proceeded to shove him in his head. As I walked into the police station to make a report about the robbery, the police officer, upon entering the building punched me infront of at least 4 other officer who laughed. The officer was a dark brown creole man in regular uniform, about 5’3” to 5”9. Upon punching me, my partner witness the punched and intervene because she felt like he was going to punch me again and walked behind him to hit him, but he blocked the punched and upon the block, he hit her in the right side of her face while dragging her along while this was happening I was crying. Officer came out to see what was happening, but did nothing. After the 2nd punch the officer walked outside, as the four other officers watched and still did not do anything. I was left in the room to make a statement while my partner got picked up by her mom. I had to go get a medio-legal form which classified the injury as harm and did not leave till 5:00am. I returned to deliver the medio-legal form much later."

The 3rd case, Pamela Perez reported murder by partner Rosalilia Castillo 2012  highlights the point that when the state shirks its responsibilities in promoting the legislative protecting all its citizens, the dignity and constitutional rights will be lost with or eroded with impunity. Perez death and the young lesbian above injury, highlights the importance that legislative action matters. Whether in defining hate crime or addressing the broader definition of spouse  in the domestic violence legislation.


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