Women's Issues In Guyana

Abuse of girls single most pressing human rights problem – GHRA

Posted in Crimes against Women by wiig on November 25, 2005
Tags: , , ,

Stabroek News – November 25, 2005

Lack of protection for girls against sexual and physical exploitation and abuse is the single most pressing human rights violation in Guyana, the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) said yesterday.

The GHRA, in a release to mark International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, being observed today, noted that such abuse is a human rights violation as well as a crime, because of the strong element of discrimination – institutional as well as personal – which pervades it. The association noted that all organisations and institutions in the society have an obligation to scrutinise themselves on how much they passively or actively contribute to a culture of violence against women.

“Such stock-taking is particularly needed among those state and civil agencies which have a pivotal role to play if this de-humanising culture is to be changed, notably the bar and the bench, the media, religious organisations, business and trade unions,” the release said.

As an example of what young girls experience in Guyana the GHRA cited four incidents that occurred during this week:

* An 18-year-old young rural victim in a rape case was humiliated, taunted and bullied by three senior lawyers in cross-examination in a preliminary inquiry in a Magistrate Court.

* A mentally ill teenage girl who lives on the street with her sister attacked a young man with a stick. The young man retaliated by chasing the girl and beating her in a “sickening and sadistic manner in full view of a crowd including two policemen,” a stone’s throw from the Ministry of Human Services. No one intervened.

* A 14-year-old schoolgirl was gang-raped by three men from a minibus on which she had travelled home from school.

* A 14-year-old girl was sodomised by her school-teacher after lessons.

The GHRA pointed out that the above incidents were just the tip of the iceberg as studies have reported that violence against women in Guyana was as seriously under-reported as it was in other countries. The release said since incidents of reported rape have climbed by one-third in the past five years, the actual number of rapes which occurred will be much higher.

However, seriously contributing to the increase of violence against women is the institutional resistance in all sectors, reflected in the callousness of some high court judges and magistrates who fail to protect female victims of physical and sexual abuse from further trauma in court; failure by the legal profession to reform a culture hostile to victims of sexual crime; failure by the government to utilise the opportunity presented by the age of consent debate for effective protection of young women from sexual predators; failure by the police to prosecute sexual crime effectively; failure by the Ministry of Human Services to provide an appropriate shelter for girls vulnerable to abuse; commodification of young girls in entertainment and liquor commercials in newspapers and television; failure of any major religious body to confront the widespread practice of violence among women of all faiths; failure to curb lewd music and conduct in mini-buses particularly at times when school-children are travelling.

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