Women's Issues In Guyana

Stella Says…Ladies, tell those abusive men, “Hell, No!”

Kaieteur News – March 26, 2006

Ten days ago this newspaper published a sobering editorial focusing on the need for the nation to start taking a strong stance against violence against women. This is how the editorial began, “It is an unendurable shame that the scourge of violence against women continues to plague Guyana year after year, with no end in sight and with no sustained public outcry against it, especially from women.”

We are nearing the end of the month many celebrate as Women’s History Month. As such I want to highlight a piece of musical art that was only recently released. “The Color Purple” is a movie from the 80’s that captured a period of time in African American history circa 1949. This movie has been made into a Broadway musical and a soundtrack of the musical is now available.

I picked it up a couple weeks ago after watching a stirring performance on television of a particular song. The song is entitled, “Hell, No!” – and for good reason. Let me share that song with you. Here is the setting; Sofia confronts her friend Celie for telling Harpo (Sofia’s husband) that he needed to beat his wife if he wanted her to “mind” him. (more…)


Female remand prisoners complain of poor conditions, treatment at Berbice

Posted in Judicial,Law Enforcement by wiig on March 24, 2006
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Stabroek News – September 24, 2006

Female remand prisoners on Tuesday highlighted problems affecting them at the Berbice prison when they appeared at New Amsterdam Magistrate’s Court. They pleaded for their problems to be addressed.

Magistrate Geeta Chandan gave the prisoners, who were charged with offences such as possession of cocaine, murder and abduction, new dates to return to court. But before the dates were fixed the prisoners told the Guyanese Women in Development (GUYWID) group, the probation officer and lawyers that they were being victimized by prison officers for the crimes they had allegedly committed.

“We are just remand prisoners; but they treating us as if we were already convicted,” one prisoner said. “When we object to certain things they tell us we are police property and they can’t do anything.”

The women said they suffer from medical conditions but are still ordered to perform strenuous chores, while the male prisoners hardly do anything.

One of the prisoners said she suffers from a severe back pain while another said she needed an operation for her stomach, but the officers are not allowing her to see the doctor or to have an x-ray done. (more…)

12-year-old runaway allegedly made into sex slave

Posted in Crimes against Women by wiig on March 23, 2006
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Kaieteur News – March 23, 2006

Police have detained two men and a Mahaica woman as they probe an allegation that a runaway 12-year-old girl was made into a sex slave. The three persons were arrested earlier this week after police learnt that the 12-year-old was lured into performing sexual favours for money.

The acts were allegedly committed by three men who reportedly paid the woman to have sex with the child.  A relative of the child who spoke to this newspaper stated that the child had run away from her Sophia home in January this year after a scolding by her mother.

She was at the East Coast Demerara bus park when she met the woman who invited her to her Jonestown, Mahaica home. While there, the child was made to perform sexual acts with the three men on different occasions while the woman was paid a fee. The relative said that an aunt of the child eventually saw her in Mahaica and immediately took her to the police. (more…)

Not guilty verdicts for two accused of rape

Posted in Crimes against Women,Judicial by wiig on March 18, 2006
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Guyana Chronicle – March 18, 2006

Ian Knights, 35, and Bryan Chester, 33, were lucky to be let off with not guilty verdicts yesterday after the Virtual Complainants told the Court that they had forgiven their attackers.
 In the case of Knights, who was charged for allegedly committing the offence at the Stabroek Municipal Market in January 1999, the victim told the Court, “I am in school. I want to get on with my studies and move on with my life.  Because of religious reasons, I have forgiven the accused for what he had done to me”.

In respect to Chester, the victim, who was also assaulted in 1999, told the judge, “I am pregnant. Having regard to my condition, I do not think it will be healthy for me to pursue this matter. I have forgiven him.”
 Prosecutor Donelle Harding had caused jurors to be empanelled for both cases before Justice James Bovell-Drakes.
 As a consequence, the judge directed the jury in each case to return not guilty verdicts in favour of the accused.

An unendurable shame

Posted in Commentary,Crimes against Women by wiig on March 16, 2006
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Kaieteur New – March 16, 2006

It is an unendurable shame that the scourge of violence against women continues to plague Guyana year after year, with no end in sight and with no sustained public outcry against it, especially from women.

According to a recent report by the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, the year 2005 was one of ‘business as usual’ for the males who violently abuse women in Guyana. The report released this month came to the quite predictable conclusion that violence against women in this country, including domestic violence, continued to be widespread, crossing racial and socio-economic lines last year, as it was in every previous year in recent memory.

The findings in the US report are important because they substantiate, by way of detailed facts and figures, the chronic inability of Guyanese women to protect themselves from violence. The report also points to the corresponding failure of the relevant social institutions to protect women from violence and to provide adequate support services for female victims of violence. How much longer will Guyanese society continue to tolerate this deplorable state of affairs? (more…)

Prostitution, unemployment threatens hinterland

Posted in Crimes against Women by wiig on March 13, 2006
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Kaieteur News – March 13, 2006

Many young hinterland girls seeking to escape the pangs of poverty might be lured into the realm of prostitution.

This is according to a report by the Ministry of Human Services on issues affecting residents of Region Nine (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo).
The residents also complained of crucial issues including lack of transportation and health care. The report stated that issues of poverty, inadequate health care and the effects of school dropouts are tremendously impacting the community.

Residents claim that many youngsters travel to neighbouring Brazil to seek employment as ranchers and domestics in order to support their families back home. (more…)

Violence prevalent against women in Guyana – US report

Posted in Business,Crimes against Women by wiig on March 11, 2006
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Kaieteur News – March 11, 2006

The US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor report for 2005 has stated that violence against women in Guyana , including domestic violence, was widespread and crossed racial and socio-economic lines during last year.

The report noted that the law prohibits domestic violence, gives women the right to seek prompt protection, and allows victims to seek protection, occupation, or tenancy orders from a Magistrate.

Penalties for violation of protection orders include fines of up to $10,000 and 12 months imprisonment; however, this legislation frequently was not enforced.

The report said that according to Help and Shelter, the government used laws against domestic violence with some measure of success; the problems laid with the failure of those responsible for implementation. (more…)

Women themselves must secure gender equality

Posted in Activism,Commentary by wiig on March 10, 2006
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Kaieteur News – March 10, 2006

An incident occurred on the eve of International Women’s Day 2006 that put into sharp focus the plight of Guyanese women as they struggle to achieve meaningful gender equality.

On Tuesday a 14-year-old boy stabbed Queens ‘ College teacher Ms. Chandra Bhoj four times in the back, causing her to be admitted to hospital in a serious condition. This adult female victim is a well-educated, veteran Mathematics tutor, yet she was virtually defenseless against an attack by an abusive male. She could not prevent her most basic human right – protection against violence – from being violated by a male attacker who is a mere boy.

Most women in Guyana can easily empathise with Ms. Bhoj’s defenselessness. They understand exactly how violated and helpless she must have felt because, in a figurative sense, Guyanese women have been getting stabbed in the back for a long, long time. They are acutely aware that there is a sickeningly high incidence of violent abuse and other types of degradation of females by males in this country, and countless cases are never exposed in public. (more…)

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