See also the St. John Source report, "March includes those who died of violence".
Oct. 24, 2002 – A bell rang out every nine seconds, breaking the silence, as about a hundred Crucians, most of them women, made their way by candlelight along the Frederiksted waterfront on Thursday evening for the annual "Take Back the Night" march sponsored by the Women's Coalition of St. Croix.
Every nine seconds, somewhere in the United States, a woman becomes a victim of domestic violence, the coalition's co-director, Mary Mingus, said. "That's a statistic we can use for the Caribbean, as well," she added.
Since 1981, the Women's Coalition has sponsored the silent march, dedicating it to one of St. Croix's many women who lost their lives to domestic violence. This year's ceremony was in honor of Ann Patricia Haumacher, who was murdered in Frederiksted three years ago by her boyfriend, Marvin Dominguez.
The procession participants walked from the Frederiksted Fish Market to the bandstand outside Fort Frederik, where they were met by another 50 or so supporters.
While the outpouring of participants wasn't great, Mingus said, those who did come out got a lot from it.
"There's never a huge turnout," she said, "but it isn't about the turnout. It's the tradition that's important and makes a statement."
This year's event coincided with the observance nationally and locally of Red Ribbon Week, which as its focus making and keeping communities drug free.
Lisa Spery, marcher and coalition supporter, said the impact of the Women's Coalition on the island of St. Croix and its help to victims of domestic violence have been phenomenal. She said victims of rape or violence have a place to turn, whereas before, there was little help to be found.
The march culminated with a the reading of poetry, the sharing of fellowship and a memorial ceremony for Haumacher.
Dominguez was convicted of beating Haumacher to death and burying her body in his backyard in 1999. He is serving a life sentence in prison for the crime.
The other Women's Coalition co-director, Clema Lewis, read a letter from the victim's family. "The horrific way Annie passed will never leave us," she read. "Instead, we'd like to focus on the time she was with us."
The letter described Haumacher as a vivacious world traveler with a zest for touring and cooking. She was working as a chef at Bacchus restaurant at the time of her death.
Since 1994, 12 women have been murdered by their husbands or partners in the Virgin Islands. The Women's Coalition of St. Croix seeks to help victims of domestic violence get the financial, emotional and physical support they need to survive their ordeal and move forward with their lives.
The Women's Coalition itself is in need of assistance. Its "wish list" at the moment includes bathroom and baby items, clothing, cleaning and office supplies, and tools. For more information about making a contribution, call 773-9272.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.