Sexual violence is everyone’s business – Ms. Manickchand
Chronicle – November 5, 2007
THE Minister of Human Services and Social Security Ms. Priya Manickchand has implored residents of that curbing sexual violence is the responsibility of everyone and urged them not to hesitate to report such cases.
She and her team took the ‘Stamp it out’ consultation paper to Region 5 Mahaica/Berbice during the weekend. The two-day meeting with residents of Rosignol, Sheldtown and Bush Lot were aimed at strengthening the awareness of sexual violence and trafficking in persons.
“Sexual violence is everyone’s business; lets all make it our business. Whenever you hear that someone was raped or sexually assaulted make it your duty to report it. If you constantly hear your neighbour assaulting his wife, report it because you might be saving someone’s life. Also if we all talk about sexual violence and not be ashamed and if everyone can speak out when they are assaulted then we will see a decline in sexual violence,” Ms. Manickchand emphasised.
At the meetings the minister distributed the consultation paper and brochures on trafficking in persons in an effort to have everyone more aware of the consultation paper and to raise the awareness of trafficking in persons, noting at the meeting that many residents are unaware about trafficking in persons. As such she promised to fully initiate an awareness campaign on the issue to more importantly to take action where such situation occurs.
At Rosignol Primary School, Ms. Manickchand outlined the consultation paper to help residents to understand what the paper is all about. She also encouraged the residents to speak out against sexual violence and constantly talk about the issue. In doing this she said persons will no longer be ashamed to report sexual violence to any one, and believes that if everyone makes sexual violence their business then there will be a massive reduction of such occurrences.
Residents of Sheldtown complained that when instances of domestic violence are reported to the police are called on to intervene, they never show up, and made requests for the presence of more ranks at the station, as well as measures to ensure that do not ignore domestic violence.
Residents also claimed that if someone is sexually assaulted or raped in the area parents of victims tend to settle the matter in order not to embarrass the victim.
However, Ms. Manickchand pointed out that if the victim is a child and the parents settle the matter they can be charged for obstructing justice, but if the victim is an adult and wishes to settle the matter this is permissible.
In the foreword to the ‘Stamp it out’ paper she noted: “Sexual violence is the most widespread and unpunished of crimes. It destroys lives, families and economy, and spreads HIV/AIDS and other STDs. Our laws are centuries out of date, and our system is failing to deliver either justice or support to victims. This is unacceptable. Sexual violence, like any other form of violence, has no place in our society, and we aim to stamp it out.”
Ms. Manickchand said the aim of the public consultations is to educate and raise the level of awareness on the importance of the consultation paper and to provide feedback to assist the Ministry in its efforts to reduce sexual violence in Guyana.
The ‘Stamp it out’ consultation paper contains proposals to strengthen protection against sexual violence and reform the law on sexual offences. The paper also suggests rigid reform for several laws to strengthen protection and improve support and services for victims. Minister Manickchand and her team will present the paper to citizens of the ten administrative regions throughout the next two weeks.
Apart from the consultation meetings in Region 5 the minister also held community meetings with the residents, in accordance with her parliamentary responsibility for that region. (Nathalene DeFreitas)