Campaign to combat gender-based violence launched in Linden

— aims at eliminating violence against women and girls

DPI, Guyana, Monday, November 25, 2019

The Ministry of Social Protection, for the next two weeks, will focus on eliminating sexual harassment, assault, violence and rape committed against women and girls.

As the ministry works towards this accomplishment, on Monday afternoon, it launched 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, at the Egbert Benjamin Exhibition and Conference Centre, in the mining town of Linden. The theme for the initiative is: “Gender equality stands against rape.”

At the ceremony, it was highlighted that violence against women is recognised globally as a problem with significant magnitude. It is an often invisible but common form of violation of human rights.

According to Minister of Social Protection, Hon. Amna Ally, the unlawful act has severe impacts on the health and wellbeing of those affected and huge significant social and economic costs on communities and even the nation as a whole.

“This scourge continues to pose a serious threat to human rights, public health, citizens security and physical, political and economic autonomy of women in Guyana. The levels of violence against women face in Guyana is unacceptable,” Minister Ally noted, in her keynote presentation.

Gender-based violence, she said, extends beyond intimate partner violence. According to the recently concluded Women’s Health and Life Experiences Survey, 20% of women in Guyana have experienced non-parental sexual abuse in their lifetime; 13% reported experiencing this abuse before the age of 18.

Minister Ally said the most significant risk factor for non-partner sexual violence, including rape, attempted rape, unwanted sexual touching and sexual harassment, is among the 15-24 age group which reported statistically higher rates of non-parental sexual violence or every type.

“Today, we must remember the importance of redoubling our efforts to make equality for women a reality. That means ensuring that they have access to education, decent work, and equal pay… It means ensuring that women have a voice in the decisions which affect their lives – in households, communities, in government, private sectors and other entities,” Minister Ally added.

She further emphasised that while much needs to be done, Guyana continues to make notable progress.

“In 2017, Guyana became the first in the Caribbean to have established a specialised court for sexual offences that is sensitive to the needs and circumstances of victims, to date, we have three high courts in the three counties of Guyana that are fully equipped to sensitively deal with sexual offence cases.”

The Social Protection Minister noted that ending violence against women is one of the government’s key priorities and a critical part of its mission to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment in accordance with the sustainable development goals.

Mayor of Linden, Her Worship Waneka Arrindell, during brief remarks, called on all Guyanese, especially the faith-based society, to join in the effort to eradicate the inexcusable behaviour.

The event, which also marks the observance of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, saw the First Lady, Her Excellency Sandra Granger, Member of Parliament (MP), Hon. Jermaine Fugerson and other representatives from the Regional Administration and Municipality in attendance.

A series of sensitisation and awareness sessions within schools, workplaces, community and religious organisations is scheduled during the 16 days; and a Men against Violence Forum is scheduled for November 29, 2019, in the Boardroom of the Mayor and Town Councillors of the City of Linden.