Social Protection roundtable focuses on Gender Equality, Social Inclusion

DPI, Guyana, Monday, December 04, 2017

A roundtable discussion centred around the issue of gender-based violence and the services that can be accessed through the Ministry of Social Protection and other related agencies was held today.

At the forum hosted at the Regency Suites, Deputy Director of Social Services at the Ministry of Social Protection, Abike Samuels disclosed that the ministry is currently finalising the National Gender Equality and Social Inclusion policy.

This plan will address several issues including the elimination of all forms of violence, the eradication of discrimination, the rights of women and vulnerable groups to safe public places and the promotion of economic development and inclusion.

Samuels drew attention to the plight of women who are not only trapped in violent relations but have the added burden of being HIV positive.

According to Samuels, “Domestic violence is already prevalent in our society we are fighting very hard to contain and eventually eradicate this scourge. (However) the problem is further compounded when one of the partners is HIV positive and quite often those persons find themselves in intimate-partner violence or other forms of abuse.”   She further explained that battling the “double jeopardy” of abuse and HIV often negatively affects the women’s self-esteem, with many opting to remain in the abusive relationship.

This, Samuels says, puts them at risk of depression and other mental health issues that eventually affects their physical health, “…they try to preserve their family as long as possible, unfortunately, these persons are doing an injustice to themselves and their families when they take this route of silence,” Samuels emphasised.

Meanwhile, in his remarks, UNAIDS Country Director, Dr. Martin Odiit noted that the discussion is very timely.

“Violence against women is a violation of their right, we also know that women who experience violence are also more likely to acquire HIV. Women living with HIV are more likely to be subjected to violence…and women who are most vulnerable to HIV are also vulnerable to violence and violence also undermines the HIV response by creating a barrier to accessing services by those who have been violated against.”

Persons affected by sexual and gender-based violence and HIV are urged to access social protection services. The administration through the Ministry of Social Protection is working to put the necessary measures in place to ensure these persons receive support.

The event was organised by the International Community of Women Living With HIV (ICW) and the Guyana Community of Positive Women and Girls (GCWAG).

By: Natasha Smith

For more photos, click on the link to the DPI’s Flickr Page

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