Rehab programme for perpetrators of abuse in 2023 

While the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security is amending the Domestic Violence Act of 1966 to impose stringent measures to curb gender-based violence, initiatives such as rehabilitation services for perpetrators of abuse will be rolled out in 2023.

Minister, Dr Vindhya Persaud said the ministry is considering renaming the act the ‘Family Violence Act’ which will go together with other pieces of legislation.

Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr Vindhya Persaud

“This is not a piece of legislation that will stand on its own. It will be by other legislations like the Bail Act and so that we can have the punitive measures and a big component of this is rehab of the perpetrators” Minister Persaud stated on Wednesday.

She continued, “That is something that will come on stream next year, because I have always believed that sometimes people become violent because that’s what they’re exposed to as young people […] there is so much acceptance of it, so we will have to have these programmes.”

The new law will be crafted to include best practices from around the world.

“We’re also looking at the impact those pieces of legislation had in these parts of the world; we’re looking at our domestic situation. We have merged all of this and we’re looking at how we can be very progressive, very modern but also very protective.”

Minister Persaud said police officers will be mandated to pursue cases of domestic abuse even if the victim refuses to, once there are visible physical marks on the victim’s body.

“We know there’s an age-old problem where people might report domestic violence and when police go, it depends on if the persons say they want to pursue or depends on what the police will do at the time. Once they see evidence of serious bodily harm, you have to.”

The minister believes that all the other measures being put into the new legislation will address the major gaps that currently exist in the gender-based violence situation in Guyana.

In September, Minister Persaud revealed that there are 40 proposed amendments to the archaic law. Amendments will see the insertion of other forms of abuse including economic, emotional, and psychological violence, and the updating of penalties for breach of protection orders.