Community marks ‘Day of Unity’ against domestic violence

Oct 16, 2017

Marianas Variety THIS year’s Day of Unity was held at the Dandan Baseball Field on Saturday to express the community’s campaign to break the cycle of domestic violence, according to Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence board vice chair Neda C. Deleon Guerrero.

Kiki Igitol-Benjamin offers prayer and lights a candle for her relative, Vicky Ann Igitol, one of the victims of domestic violence, Saturday. Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio.

The event highlighted the commemoration of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“Throughout the year,” Deleon Guerrero said, “we do multiple activities to spread awareness against domestic violence. The Day of Unity is the day when we could be with our family, friends, community members and the survivors or the family of crime victims.”

The event started at 1 p.m. with musical performances and family fun activities. At 5 p.m., men, wearing a skirt or a tutu, participated in the walk against domestic violence.

Among the participants were U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Superior Court Judge Kenneth Govendo and House Minority Leader Edmund Villagomez.

Kilili said he always participates in the men’s walk in support of programs against domestic violence.

It was his ninth year to participate in the event. “This is also the fifth year that I walked wearing a skirt,” he added. “We have to keep fighting against domestic violence. The coalition has done a wonderful job in raising awareness against it. Education is very important.”

In a separate interview, Judge Govendo said he has been joining the march for the past years to help raise awareness about help and programs available for victims of domestic violence.

“What we have to do is to let women know that there are people in the government and outside the government that will help them if they are victims of domestic violence,” Govendo said. “All they have to do is to come forward and ask for help. Once she goes to court and gets an order of protection, she will be protected because if a person violates the protection that person can go to jail.”

Villagomez said he has been joining the march every year to advocate “for a violent-free commonwealth in every way we can.”

He said “this is one way to get the message across. I also urge the community to continue to spread the message so that we could help end domestic violence and other forms of violence as well.”

At 6 p.m., the participants held a candle-light vigil.

“The candle symbolizes the light through the darkness and we are here tonight to honor and remember our victims and let their family know that we are here, we still remember,” Deleon Guerreo said. “The candle-light vigil is also our way of showing awareness that this crime indeed happened.”

The candle-light vigil honored the memories of Francisca Benavente Camacho, Rosalia Tomol Teigita, Erlinse Cabrera Santos, Leonor Salunga Miranda, Joanna S. Vitug, Ana Maria Pialur Limes and Vicky Ann Igitol.

Rita Cruz, sister of Francisca, was the first to light the candle for her sister. Cruz said Francisca died in 1985 in her mid-20s.

“I am more hopeful that someday the violence will end,” Cruz said, as she thanked the coalition for raising awareness about domestic violence.