Maui’s first annual Men’s March Against Violence was held on Thursday, Oct. 25. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and many people came out to show their support for ending violence in our homes. In the United States, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced domestic violence. These statistics are alarming, and we need to take action to stop this from happening.
The event was presented and organized by the County of Maui, UHMC Pau Violence Program, Kaiser Permanente, Mental Health America of Maui and Made In Hope. The march was held in the memory of the people who have suffered from and lost their lives to domestic violence.
Volunteers handed out t-shirts to attendees and many people showed up with handmade signs to promote the cause. Several dignitaries showed up in support of domestic violence victims, including Mayor Alan Arakawa, Maui County Council candidate Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, Miss Hawai’i Filipina 2018 Joy Tabon and a group of Maui County Firefighters.
The event kicked off with an announcement made by Mayor Arakawa. His speech consisted of a proclamation declaring October to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month; he also talked about how domestic violence affects our community. After the mayor’s speech, event participants marched one mile from the Kahului Boys & Girls Club to the UHMC campus.
After arriving at the campus, a large group photo was taken. A handful of people spoke at the campus, including Chris Kanemura of the Made in Hope nonprofit organization and Aris Banaag, a personal support counselor at UHMC. These two men were vital in organizing the march. The mic was then handed to Leah Belmonte, who spoke on behalf of Gov. David Ige. Belmonte gave a heartfelt speech about how the issue of domestic violence starts at home and how we must teach our children to do better in order to resolve this widespread problem.
Steven Vega, who is the head coach for the Maui High Sabers, was presented with the Distinguished Citizen of the Year award for his considerable work within the community. Not only does he coach boys’ basketball, but he also teaches his players to become responsible adults.
Banaag and Kanemura led the crowd in a pledge against violence; they pledged to challenge violence in all forms and to stand with the people who are treated unfairly. Lastly, but very importantly, speakers Mari Kanemura and Debbie Brown led a silent vigil in honor of the people who lost their lives to domestic violence. It was powerful to hear the names being spoken aloud of those who could not make it out of a terrible situation. Our community needs to show solidarity and let these people who are suffering know they are not alone.
And, maybe if we do this often enough, we can one day put an end to this unnecessary violence and death.
If you or someone you know is in a violent situation, contact the Women Helping Women 24-hour emergency hotline at 808-579-9581.