Domestic violence continues unabated despite the Act that was passed
Stabroek News – December 20, 2005
The Domestic Violence Act is not working. Every day women are being beaten, brutalised and even murdered at the hands of men, either husbands or lovers. Yet nothing is being done by those in authority.
We have a ministry headed by a woman which is responsible for executing this act. But it seems that it is not functioning effectively.
There are a number of women’s organisations in Guyana but most of them are affiliated to political parties. When matters of a political nature arise these organisations are heard. Otherwise nothing is being done by those so called women’s organisations.
The police seem to give a lukewarm response to crimes of domestic violence when complaints are make to police stations. Many times complainants are told to “go home and make up with your man”, or “we are not interfering in man and woman affairs, that is a domestic matter”.
Much more has to be done by the authorities.
Proceedings were taken against a few abusive husbands under the Act. However, there are serious problems. In the first place, many women do not know of the rights they have been given under the Act to seek a variety of orders against abusive husbands which can include restraining orders preventing them approaching the home or workplace and even putting them out of the home.
Others are afraid that a report to the police may lead to greater violence, as has sometimes happened. And if, of course, a husband is sent to jail and he is the breadwinner it may leave the woman without financial support.
It is also true that the police were often not helpful where reports were made. However, recently seventeen members of the Disciplined Services were given a special one week Train the Trainers programme to equip them with the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to train other ranks to effect an appropriate police response to domestic violence and child abuse.