Women's Issues In Guyana

The UN campaign to end violence against women is most welcome

Letter to Editor of Stabroek News – March 7, 2008

Dear Editor,

I write to commend you on your fine editorial captioned “It can’t wait” which appeared in SN on Saturday, March 01. It seems to have been spurred by the fact that on the previous Monday, “UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched a multi-year global campaign bringing together the United Nations, governments and civil society to try to end violence against women.”

I confess to coming within an inch of dancing in the streets over the news of this UN campaign. I hope that it will be vigorously and resolutely pursued in a sustained way, and that SN and its women writers will contribute significantly towards keeping this matter on the front burner where it most certainly belongs.

I had expected to see swarms of letters in SN from women and women’s groups on this very, very important topic. Did I miss something? But perhaps the Guyanese society is still in shock and still trying to come to terms with the recent horrific manifestations of man’s inhumanity to man that need to be denounced unequivocally in the strongest terms.

I particularly noted your reference to the Secretary-General’s rousing comment:

“But there is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable.”It is suggested in the literature that a social phenomenon (such as violence against women) is never ascribable to a single causative factor. In this regard, I particularly like the various linkages that you made in the editorial. I can think of a few others, for example, the misinterpretation of Biblical injunctions such as: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands” and “Obey them that have rule over you.” There is, too, the lingering notion among some women in Guyana that if their Significant Other doesn’t beat them, then he doesn’t really love them; and that if he beats them, it is probably their fault. You see, one of the ways of keeping people in subjection is to invent a philosophy which they come to believe.

I note the several issues you raised. For me, though, the greatest difficulties in this matter in the context of Guyana are the need for further, sustained education of females and males in respect of this issue; the law’s delays in bringing justice to assaulted women; and the phenomenon of what your editorial calls “slap-on-the-wrist sentences” so often handed down by the courts of Guyana in matters of violence against women.

Your editorial, I feel, should be required reading not only for all persons involved in the administration of justice, but also for all of us citizens so that, together, we may do all we can in relation to gender-based violence which has been described as “a hidden pandemic.”

Congratulations on your editorial!

Yours faithfully,

George N Cave AA


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