Women's Issues In Guyana

Help and Shelter reopening sanctuary – notes continuing violence against women

Posted in Activism,Crimes against Women by wiig on November 22, 2005
Tags: , , ,

Stabroek News – November 22, 2005

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Help & Shelter says it is reopening its shelter for battered women and children and, noting the increase of violence against women, it is calling on the police force to set a timetable for special units to handle domestic violence and child abuse cases.

The organisation said in a release that thanks to a partnership reached with the Ministry of Labour, Human Services & Social Security, the shelter will shortly be reopened but would not only house battered women and their children but also victims of human trafficking.

The shelter was closed in 2004 less than three years after it was opened in November 2000.

On the verge of celebrating its 10th anniversary next Friday, the organisation said that the 30 women killed by their partners for this year should not be forgotten pointing out that there has been no similar outcry about their deaths as has been the case in attacks on businesses.

“It is not that we believe that attacks on businesswomen/men and their families do not warrant an immediate and serious response: they do. But it is evident that wife and partner killings are treated as commonplace and given scant attention,” the release said. Hence, the organisation’s call for the police to set a timetable to make good its commitments to the Guyanese people to set up the units.

The NGO revealed that during the past 10 years it has helped over 6,000 people with a wide range of problems associated with domestic violence and other forms of abuse. An analysis of the cases showed that spousal/ partner abuse accounts for a whopping 74% of all the cases seen with 42% of that figure being physical spousal/partner abuse and 30% non-physical abuse. The release said that approximately 12% of the shelter’s cases for the same period were related to non-spousal/intra-family abuse and 14% have been child abuse cases including rape.

Additionally, in relation to child abuse, non-sexual physical abuse has been most commonly reported but there has been a proportionately significant number of reports of sexual abuse (including rape).

It was in 1999 when the organisation commenced its Court Support Service and obtained the approval of the Chancellor for its counsellors to remain with clients during in-camera hearings and at present there are two part-time court support counsellors.

It was announced that during the first six months of 2005 the counsellors handled 47 cases including 20 rapes, eight carnal knowledge and seven child abuse (physical) matters.

Help and Shelter also argued that the current law relating to rape and other sexual offences is “both substantively and procedurally so inadequate to the task of providing protection against and punishment for sexual abuse … that a complete overhaul is long overdue”. It says it understands that new legislation is being drafted.

As regards child abuse, the organisation hopes that the Children’s Bill, which is before parliament will be enacted without further delay and that the Education Bill under review will outlaw corporal punishment as it is a form of physical abuse that teaches the use of violence as a means of resolving problems.

Meanwhile, the organisation says it continues its public education programme seeking to reduce and eliminate the scourge of domestic violence, child abuse and all other forms of violence by promoting changes in attitudes to the use of violence and the practices of violence.
To mark its anniversary, which falls on International Day Against Violence Against Women, the organisation will have a film shown on Thursday at 8 pm at the Sidewalk Cafe and Poetry & Prose Readings on Saturday at 5 pm at the Oasis Cafe.


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