Women's Issues In Guyana


GHRA seeks to improve delivery of 
justice to sexual violence victims

Posted in Judicial,Law Enforcement by wiig on December 18, 2005
Tags: , , ,

Kaieteur News – December 18, 2005

A campaign aimed at improving the delivery of justice to women survivors of sexual violence was launched earlier this week by the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA).

The campaign was announced following a meeting of the GHRA and members of the Age of Consent Coalition (AOCC). The decision follows the publication earlier this year of a study on conviction rates in sexual violence cases by the GHRA which detailed the required reforms.

According to Co President of the GHRA, Merle Mendonca, members of the AOCC had voiced their dissatisfaction with what they felt was the almost secretive manner in which the Age Of Consent Bill was hurried through Parliament late October. They agreed to extend their fundamental concern over the age of consent – namely protection of young women – into this broader campaign on sexual violence.

The campaign aims in general to inform and mobilize public opinion around the seriousness and prevalence of sexual violence in Guyana; develop and advocate for reforms to laws and legal processes in sexual violence cases; and to explore better provision of essential legal, health and counselling services required by survivors of sexual violence.

According to Mendonca, specific issues on which the campaign will focus include the low level of public understanding of consent and coercion in situations of rape as well as sexual violence and the out-dated definitions of sexual violence crimes.

She said the campaign will also focus on the present judicial process which is steeped in chauvinism that re-victimizes the female survivors of sexual assaults as well as the alarmingly low convicted rate of 1% of all reported cases of rape.

The inadequate and non-systematic counselling and legal services for rape survivors will also be addressed under this campaign.
Against this background, the campaign aims to raise levels of public awareness and understanding of sexual violence and combat discrimination against women in the judicial process.

Mendonca said it is hoped that the profile of victims’ rights in sexual violence cases will be raised.

Further, the campaign aims at strengthening counselling and legal support for victims of sexual violence and developing community-based capacity to monitor sexual violence against women.

According to Mendonca, a Steering Committee from both bodies is in the process, reflecting the broad-based membership of the AOCC.
She added that activities to secure the above aims will include community-based education and awareness programmes led by members of the AOCC.

Reforms of relevant laws and legal processes are also being developed for wide consultation and discussion both at the level of the legal professions and communities.

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