Women's Issues In Guyana

Child marriages highlight of ‘Stamp it out’ consultation

Posted in Legislation by wiig on November 10, 2007
Tags: , ,

Kaieteur News – November 10, 2007

Consultations on the reformation of laws with regards to sexual violence are progressing and have so far gathered the suggestions of the legal fraternity, the Guyana Defence Force, Neighbourhood Policing Groups, and students.

Minister of Human Services and Social Security Priya Manickchand continues to lead sessions on the consultation paper around the country and is seeking input from various interest groups.

In Berbice, child marriages seemed to be one of the main concerns as the minister met with residents of Albion, New Amsterdam and Crabwood Creek on Wednesday and Thursday.

The consultations are being held to raise the level of awareness on the prevalence of sexual violence and to garner thoughts toward amending the outdated laws which failed to protect victims who are sexually violated.

The Human Services Minister said sexual violence is pervasive in the society and action taken is not expeditious to give the victims a feeling of justice.

She noted that there are not many facilities that cater for victims especially in the hospitals and at police stations.

“For this reason the consultations will be held in the 10 administrative regions to garner people’s input to change the laws and implement strategies to help victims through their ordeal and minimise sexual violence,” Minister Manickchand said.

Residents at the meetings highlighted that child marriages are prevalent in the region and urged the minister to address the issue.

The consultation paper contains proposals that are aimed at garnering feedback from the public to strengthen protection against sexual violence and reform the laws on sexual offences.

A referral centre will be introduced in various hospitals across the country which will be manned by a police officer and a doctor so that victims will be able to receive attention at a central point.

Minister Manickchand told the residents that sexual violence can lead to many social issues such as HIV/AIDS, poverty and encourage street children.

“The law is not what the Government puts on paper; it is the people who have the responsibility to make the laws proactive. If you fail as a person, the country fails,” Minister Manickchand said.

She added that the ministry is working to expedite the consultation process on the paper during a three-month period so that the draft Bill can be laid in Parliament between January and March 2008.

The Minister is urging all Guyanese to offer their comments and suggestions on the paper as these will influence the final programme of reforms.

On November 12 and 13, Minister Manickchand is scheduled to visit Region Three to continue the meetings.


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