Media sensitised on how to report on sexual offences
GINA, GUYANA, Wednesday, November 2, 2016
The Ministry of Social Protection hosted a sensitisation workshop on the Sexual Offences Act in recognition of the critical role the media plays in reporting sexual offences cases.
The Gender Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Social Protection facilitated the sensitisation of media personnel workshop today, at the Regency Hotel, Hadfield Street.
Manager of the Gender Affairs Bureau, Jason Shepherd said the exercise sought to clarify how reporting is done in relation to the Sexual Offences Act.
“We want to ensure that aspects of the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Offences Acts…that certain sections are made clear especially for your reporting, your court reporting and your everyday reporting where these might come into play,” Shepherd said in opening remarks.
Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Shalimar Ali-Hack, who outlined the provisions of the Sexual Offences Act, urged reporters to use the Act to guide their reporting about cases so that victims are protected.
The DPP said it is important not to state the address or the name of the perpetrator since it can lead to the identification of the victim. “Do not put addresses. You can go in to what are the general facts,” Ali-Hack urged.
Many reported incidences of domestic violence and sexual offences in the media are of women and children, and Ali-Hack said it is for this reason that their identities must be protected. The DPP said it is particularly important to ensure that reporting and publication on children who are victims or perpetrators of crimes are not in conflict with the Rights of the Child Convention to which Guyana is a signatory.
Ali-Hack added that while it is the media’s role to sensitise the public as to what sexual offences are, the DPP cautioned editors of media houses to be aware of the law and use it to guide their reportage.
The caution to stick to the provisions of the law was also raised by executive member of the Guyana Press Association (GPA) Dennis Chabrol
who noted perceptions of what are “unethical”, and what can often lead into “grey areas” when reporting on such issues.
“We ought to stick to the application of the law and see to what extent they have infractions and how those ought to be avoided in the future,” Chabrol cautioned.
The Ministry of Social Protection believes that there is need for robust sensitisation on the legislations governing sexual offences and domestic violence.
The workshop was facilitated to ensure that those who play a critical role in the process have a better understanding of their roles, Karen Vansluytman-Corbin, Senior Labour from the Ministry of Social Protection’s Office of Occupational Safety and Health pointed out.
Section 62 of the Sexual Offences Act states “every person who publishes in any document, or broadcast, or transmits in any way, any information that could identify the complaint or a witness contrary to Subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of two million dollars.”
By Tiffny Rhodius