Police officers complete training to deal with gender-based violence

Eighteen officers of the Guyana Police Force have completed one month of training to deal with the social ill of gender -based violence. The programme was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

This programme was initiated one month ago and aims to train officers to set standards, and issue policies and guidelines to strengthen prevention mechanisms to combat gender-based violence in Guyana.

Minister of Human Services and Social Protection, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, MP, addressing the COPSQUAD2000 first batch of trained officers

At a graduation ceremony for the first COPSQUAD2000 batch of trained officers held today, at the Police Training Centre, Eve Leary, Minister, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, MP, noted that this training was aimed at attaining meaningful and tangible impact on the social ill, which has created havoc in the country and globally.

“You are the pioneers of the COPSQUAD initiative and I feel in my heart that you will do justice to the training that you have received through this initiative,” the Minister said.

Minister Persaud believes that when the officers go out in the fields and be agents of transformation, they would make a huge difference within the communities they serve.

Minister of Human Services and Social Protection, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, MP, Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, MP along with the trained officers from the COPSQUAD2000 programme and officials from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

The Minister said statistics show that 90 per cent of the population, affected by gender-based violence, are women and girls.  

“It means that we’re still in the grips of a situation that continues to haunt our country, where our women and girls remain unsafe. Many of these instances and incidents can happen behind closed doors, it still has stigma around it. It’s still something that many people are not comfortable facing, addressing or taking action against mainly because it hits too close to home.”

In her charge to the graduates, Minister Persaud noted that many persons play a part in eliminating the problem.

“I would have once played my own role as a physician dealing with persons who would have come in the emergency room badly battered. You would play your role when the reports are taken, the Judiciary would have to play its role when the law is enforced …,” she noted. 

Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, MP handing over a certificate to one of the officers

She expressed confidence in this batch of graduates, to enforce the correct polices, even while dealing with their fellow officers.

“Be the influencers in the Police Force, be the ones who can look across the aisle or the class or when you’re on duty, and if you know an officer is not doing what he should do or not behaving in the manner which is expected of him, you can be the ones to say ‘Hey, you’re not doing the right thing’ and if necessary, report that officer, it is as serious as that.

“This means you have to be examples; this is a tough one, it means even if issues arise in your personal relationships and in the environments in which you find yourself, you have to be able to put into practice all that you’ve learnt, it’s a tough one. But I believe that you’ve been exposed to all of the information that you require to put you in good stead, to respond, to react, to report and definitely to take condign actions against those who are offenders.”

Meanwhile, Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, MP, during his address congratulated the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security for its continued efforts in dealing with the social issues which affect Guyanese.

Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, MP, addressing the COPSQUAD2000 first batch of trained officers

He said the programme is particularly important because the first point of contact for a victim is officially a police officer, as such they serve a critical role.

Minister Benn noted that in order to move forward, the challenge of victims not wanting to engage must be overcome.

“Even while we are putting in the police stations, places where victims, children, women can safely sit with and discuss the issue, I think we have to overcome the challenge of this day of not wanting to engage, of thinking perhaps it is normal and acceptable for this type of behaviour to continue.”

Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police(ag), Nigel Hoppie, DSM, pointed out that gender-based violence is a concern all over the world. He also pointed to statistics, which show that women are more at risk.

The First batch of trained officers from the COPSQUAD2000 programme

“For the corresponding period of last year, 11 women were killed as a result of domestic violence, ten by their intimate partner and one by their father. During the period, January to August 2021, the Guyana Police Force’s preliminary information received indicates that 1 135 reports of Domestic Violence with 994 of those reports being female victims.”

The efforts of the Human Services ministry in addressing gender-based violence were also commended by the UNFPA.