55 per cent Guyanese women exposed to violence – Minister Persaud

Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud on Tuesday reported that an alarming 55 per cent of Guyanese women are exposed to violence.

She made the disclosure during a panel discussion held at the Guyana Women’s Leadership Institute (GWLI), Cove and John, as part of the ministry’s 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

(left to right) Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, Public Relations Officer, Romario Samaroo, Senior Psychologist at the Mental Health Unit, GPHC, Balogun Osunbiyi, Minister of Human Services, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, Attorney at Law and UN Spotlight initiative program officer, Anuradha Persaud and Admin Assistant child care and protection agency, Juliet perreira-Smith at panel discussion.

Minister Persaud reiterated the ministry’s commitment to ensuring essential programmes and initiatives are implemented to grapple with the growing issue.

“In our own country the numbers remain worrying. We have 55 per cent of women who would’ve experienced some form of violence in their life, usually in a relationship setting.

We will not rest, we will continue to work tirelessly until we manage to deliver effective, efficient services and we manage to provide the kind of support that is needed for those persons that experience violence and abuse.”

As a result of non-existing support systems, poor kinships and financial dependency, many victims of violence stay in life threatening relationships, Dr. Persaud stated.

Minister of Human Services and Social Security at 16 Days of Activism, panel discussion at the Guyana Women’s Leadership Institute, Cove and John.

She said the ministry is engaging the public to spread awareness of the opportunities and support systems available for victims of domestic violence.

Some of the initiatives implemented to render aid include the 914-emergency toll-free hotline. The 24-hour helpline was created to propel Guyana into reporting mode and enable persons to report acts of abuse in confidentiality.

Meanwhile, UN Spotlight Initiative Programme Officer and Attorney at Law, Anuradha Persaud spoke of the legal aid accessible to women and victims of violence. According to her, statistics show that it may take a woman nine tries before she leaves an abusive relationship. However, most times that woman may die at the hands of her abuser before the ninth attempt.

Participants of the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, panel discussion at the Guyana Women’s Leadership Institute, Cove and John.

She said the law offers protection to victims of abuse.

“The Domestic Violence Act is an Act to provide protection for you. A protection order basically is an order by the court ordering the perpetrator or anybody who enables the perpetrator to stay away from you. There are also other things they can order them to not do, if you live in the same house, they can order them to not verbally abuse you, sexually abuse you, financially abuse you.”

To ensure victims who come forward are safe, the ministry trained and employed survivor advocates to provide victims with the support and help needed to overcome their experiences.

Survivor advocates are accessible to persons through the 914 hotline and have the responsibility of informing victims of their rights and services available to them.

Spreading awareness through broachers on violence.

To further assist persons, temporary housing is available through shelters and half way homes until they are able to provide housing and basic living essentials independently.

Additionally, the ministry is set to launch a gender-based violence app, compatible with all smart phones in the coming year. The app will send the location of persons exposed to violence or in need of help to the ministry through the 914- hotline.

The ministry will further use this period to amplify the work of the 914-hotline number as an important part of its fight against domestic violence.

Other activities planned during the 16 days of activism can be found on the ministry’s Facebook page.