Women's Issues In Guyana

Study shows fathers, stepfathers prime culprits in sexual abuse cases

Posted in Crimes against Women by wiig on September 10, 2007
Tags: , , ,

Kaieteur News – September 10, 2007
By Melanie Allicock

About 10 percent of girls and five percent of boys in Guyana have been sexually abused.

This is the finding of a recent study commissioned by the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security and UNICEF.

However, sexual abuse is highly under reported worldwide and Guyana is probably no exception, the survey found.

The survey found that the most common perpetrators of sexual violence are fathers and stepfathers. In some areas, teenaged girls are being trafficked to work under exploitative conditions, often as prostitutes.

Girls are sometimes pushed by social or economic pressures into sexually exploitative relationships or prostitution.

About one-third of the children in Guyana experience physical damage from disciplinary violence and many more have suffered from negative emotional impacts.

The study also concluded that the majority of physical abuse perpetuated against children in the home actually occurred as a result of licks, beatings or other physical punishments administered as discipline.

Some 33 per cent of children interviewed had been physically harmed in a disciplinary context (including broken skin or bones).

The most common perpetrators of physical violence against children in the home are mothers. Of the children who reported being physically hurt, 16 per cent had been hurt by their mothers, seven per cent by their fathers, two per cent by both parents, five per cent by related caregivers (aunts, uncles, grandparents) and three per cent by step parents.

The study also found that, as a result of domestic violence, children are exposed to emotional violence in the home.

The primary causes of domestic violence were reported to be alcohol abuse, financial pressures and infidelity.

Children are subjected to exploitation, neglect and abandonment.

An increasing number of children are also living on the streets in Guyana. It was estimated that the number of boys living on the streets has risen by 50 per cent between 1998 and 2000.

However, the good news is that the special Child Protection Monitoring Database (CPMD) unit established in the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security is now monitoring all cases of child abuse .

This unit came into existence as a result of an agreement which was signed in September 2004 between the government and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for the establishment of the database.

She explained that since its establishment, the unit has been progressing smoothly in monitoring all cases of abuse and other problems which affect vulnerable children.

The CPMD is aimed at protecting children and adolescents from violence through monitoring and surveillance, and was established by the Ministry, along with technical support from the Bureau of Statistics.

Noting that most cases of child abuse are not reported, the Human Services Ministry has always urged members of the public to report all incidents of child molestation, so these may be followed up in a child-friendly and timely manner.

The government and other child protection agencies have also recognised the need to review and strengthen the child protection services in Guyana.

Child Protection Awareness Week is now being observed every September as an annual event.

The Ministry has also been working on implementing additional programmes to protect the welfare of children.

In a previous interview, Chief Probation Officer Ann Green said, “We are very concerned about the apparent child abuse and we seriously want to tackle it.”

The Ministry has also embarked on a number of public awareness campaigns and programmes to sensitise the Guyanese people to child abuse.

“We want to get the public at large aware that they have a responsibility to protect a child,” Ms. Green noted.

With UNICEF’s support, the Ministry has also established a five-year implementation plan with a two-year start-up and pilot phase.

The project costs more than $9m and will run for at least two years.

The project addresses Government’s concern about the increasing reports of children being victims and perpetrators of violence.

The CPMD is the first to be set-up in Guyana and the Caribbean and serves as a model for other countries.

It also serves as a basis for monitoring children’s issues, in keeping with the Millennium Development Goals.


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