Sexual, domestic violence 2017-2021 action plan slated for May implementation

GINA, GUYANA, Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Implementation of the 2017-2021 action for plan sexual offences and domestic violence is expected to be launched in May, 2017, even as members of the National Task Force continue consultations.

Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally during a consultation process today, at the Ministry of Labour, said that for years there has been an upsurge in sexual violence cases and social ills in Guyana. The Minister said it is therefore necessary to implement the action plan to target individuals, communities, organisations and other vulnerable groups and feedback is necessary for doing so.

“The plan is expected to be launched in May; therefore it is important for all members of the task force to provide their comments and feedback on the plan of action so that we can ensure it is launched on the proposed scheduled date…if we don’t get feedback we will not be able to implement the plan effectively,” Minister Ally explained.

Members of the National Task Force at the consultation at the Ministry of Labour

The 2017-2021 national plan of action for the implementation of the sexual offences and domestic violence 2010 Act is intended to be implemented throughout Guyana by the sexual violence unit of the Ministry of Social Protection, under the guidance of the National Task Force on Sexual and Domestic Violence. It will serve as a guide to prevent and respond to violence against women and children.

Minister Ally noted that the National Task Force on Sexual and Domestic Violence has a critical role to play in making key recommendations and policy decisions which will impact the lives of victims, as well as perpetrators.

She added that Ministry of Social Protection is the lead agency mandated to implement policies and programmes related to sexual violence and domestic violence in Guyana, and will definitely support the National Task Force.

“(The) Ministry of Social Protection is committed to working with all key stakeholders to eliminate all forms of sexual and domestic violence and it is therefore, imperative for us to collaborate with each other to ensure greater efficiency and guarantee effective implementation of the Sexual Offences Act of 2010,” the Minister stated.

Manager of the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Policy Unit, Akeelo Doris explained that in the interim, the task force has to create awareness. Doris noted that, “the activities of the task force does not limit individual agencies from implementing programmes on their own, you already had your budgetary allocations, but we’re hoping that once we can finalise our plan of action, we can have a budget specifically for implementing activities at the task force level. So the task force will be adding value to what individual partners are doing.”

Doris added that the National Task Force will also seek inputs from relevant experts including those with knowledge of, and experience in sexual offences matters and issues involving hinterland communities.

Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Shalimar Ali-Hack added that emphasis must be placed on informing persons on the policies and laws guiding sexual and domestic violence. The DPP stressed that persons must adhere to the laws. “The persons need to understand that if they’re between 12 and 14 (years old) you cannot have consensual sex with someone who is two years older than you, and if you’re between 14 and 16 (years old) you cannot have consensual sex with someone who is more than four years older than you,” the DPP explained .

Other members present at the consultation included officials from the Ministries of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Education, Social Protection, Public Health, and representatives from Help and Shelter, the Guyana Police Force and the DPP’s Chambers.

The task force will continue to meet for consultations, once every three months until the action plan is implemented.

By: Ranetta La Fleur