First Lady explores possible partnerships with Domestic Violence Unit

Georgetown, Guyana – (February 7, 2017) First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, today, met with Ms. Akilah Dorris, Head of the Domestic Violence Unit (DVU) of the Ministry of Social Protection to discuss possible areas of collaboration on issues that affect the most vulnerable sections of the society.

During the meeting, which was held at the Office of the First Lady at State House, the women discussed high incidence of domestic and sexual violence afflicting the society, the importance of women’s empowerment, and other issues.    

First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger and Ms. Akilah Dorris, today, at State House

The Domestic Violence Unit was established in October 2016 with the view of reducing the high incidence of sexual and domestic violence in Guyana.

“Domestic Violence has a bearing on women’s health and well-being, physical and mental,” Mrs. Granger said. 

Last year, the Government, through the Ministry of Social Protection, identified 12 police stations across the country that will be upgraded to handle domestic violence complaints in a more sensitive and secure manner.  Ms. Dorris said that the DVU is working closely with these stations in this endeavour. She also revealed that her office is engaging several different organisations, including ministries and non-governmental organisations in an effort to bring greater awareness about domestic violence.

“Women don’t really come forward because they have nowhere else to go, so this year we’ve developed a temporary assistance programme for domestic violence survivors, where we provide temporary accommodation for victims up to about six months until we can get them reintegrated,” Ms. Dorris said.

On this point, the First Lady said that it is important for women to become empowered. While women are adaptable, she said, “We have to start thinking [about] how we harness [what we have]. Women tend to embrace change; my main focus is getting women empowered in their own little communities”.   

The First Lady also said that she is becoming increasingly concerned about reports of children being trafficked by their families.

“I think we need to really focus on [these issues] because it is disturbing to me, [especially] in our hinterland areas where we have young girls who are trafficked…What sense of [worth] will these children have? It’s very difficult for them to come back into the mainstream life,” Mrs. Granger said.  

She noted that the social problems plaguing Guyana all overlap at some point and that there is the need for a holistic approach to dealing with each issue.