A powerful hashtag, #lifeinleggings, geared towards giving Caribbean women the space and support to share their stories of Gender-Based Violence (which includes but are not limited to domestic violence, verbal, emotional, sexual, physical, psychological abuse…), is exploding on Facebook and Twitter. Belize is the latest Caribbean country to join the other Caribbean islands that are part of this groundswell namely Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, St. Vincent, Grenada, St. Lucia, The Bahamas and Jamaica.
The stories that women of every age, ethnicity and economic background have been sharing are alarming … from posts about victim-shaming and being forced into silence, to tales of intimidation, misguided expressions of admiration, the rampant sexual abuse of minors and the proclivity of their guardians for sweeping it under the rug.
The National Women’s Commission in Belize, a policy advisory body to government on issues of Gender Equality, Equity and Women’s Empowerment supports this movement and is using its website and Facebook page to bring awareness to #lifeinleggingsEnufDaEnuf, giving Belizean women and girls a platform to share their stories of survival and courage to provide education, support and referral services.
The founders of #lifeinleggings are: Ronelle King, 24, Barbadian feminist, social justice and human rights activist. Founder and Director of the viral social media movement #lifeinleggings which later formed a grassroots organization, Life In Leggings: Caribbean Alliance Against Gender-based Violence that is committed to dismantling the rape culture within the Caribbean. She’s a lover of food, books and fashion when she’s not actively trying to dismantle the patriarchy. Unrelenting in her advocacy for equality, which is not limited to civil rights activism. She occasionally wears leggings but only with boots.”
Allyson Benn, 32, Barbadian blogger and author who helped to start the viral #lifeinleggings campaign in Barbados. After her friend Ronelle King became increasingly tired of daily street harassment, she approached Benn with the idea for a hashtag where women could share their experiences with sexual violence. Benn coined the term Life in Leggings to dispel the myth that sexual violence is about what the victim was wearing.