Women's Issues In Guyana

Manickchand calls for ongoing national conversation on sexual violence

Posted in Legislation by wiig on November 24, 2007
Tags: , , ,

Stabroek News – November 24, 2007

The ongoing Ministry of Human Services’ consultations on sexual violence should be seen as the start of a national conversation, which should continue even after the Act is passed, Minister Priya Manickchand said yesterday.

The Government Information Agency (GINA), in a press release, stated that the ministry’s consultation at the Guyana International Confer-ence Centre, Liliendaal yesterday attracted the largest gathering of over 250 persons from about 40 organizations. The participants made recommendations on the sexual violence paper ‘Stamp it out’ during the session.

Presentations were made by Manickchand, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack and Prime Minister Samuel Hinds.

The consultation coincided with observances to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which will be observed tomorrow. The release said Manickchand, in her presentation, noted,

“Government alone cannot do enough to end the violence, every citizen should join in the battle”.

According to the release the minister said there is a need for a change in attitude by the service providers for the legislation to have the desired results.

The need for society to change its attitude towards victims of sexual violence was one aspect noted during the meetings, the minister said, since some persons still seem to share the view that victims can cause these acts to be committed on them.

Meanwhile, PM Hinds noting that there seems to be an increase in acts of violence especially against women and girls, especially very young girls, called for a change in society.

Hinds added that the government is working to put women and men on equal footing as it tries to promote harmony in relationships. He commended the minister and her staff for the work they have done so far.

Ali-Hack in her remarks stated that women today are the victims of every conceivable type of violence and that “the increase in the use of narcotics is causing people to give into their vices; these often result in violence against women”. She said these acts include rape, sodomy and murder.

The DPP stated that the current legislation, which has been in place for over 100 years, needs to be amended to deal with these criminal acts.

With reference to the culture of not reporting these crimes, Ali-Hack was quoted as saying, “We have a new Domestic Violence Act but it is not being sufficiently used by the victims. They need to use the orders, and the Legal Aid Clinic can assist with this.”

While noting that 50 percent of the cases listed at each High Court sitting are for sexual violence, the DPP acknowledged the slow court system as a causative factor for persons not continuing with cases.

She applauded the minister’s move to amend the committal procedure which will reduce the trial time for these cases.

The DPP shared the view that amending the law is not enough; the trial procedure needs to be friendlier to the victim, GINA stated.

The release said that after the presentations, participants sub divided into working groups to discuss the proposed changes and to submit a report on their recommendations.


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