Men’s forum garners large audience


As part of the government’s effort to address gender-based violence, scores of men from across the country gathered on Thursday last, at the Guyana Motor Racing and Sports Club (GMRSC), to discuss the ways to curb violence against women and girls.
Held under the theme, “#HearMeToo: Collective Voices Against Gender-Based Violence,” the men ‘s forum was a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Social Protection, Voices against Violence, the Women’s Gender & Equality Commission and other stakeholders.
This event forms part of the ministry’s 16 days of Activism campaign against Gender-Based Violence, which commenced on November 25 and will conclude on December 10. The campaign is being held in recognition of the need to eliminate violence against women and children.
The participants discussed a number of topics including sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, poor health choices, male perpetrators of violence and what defines and determines masculinity.
Director of Social Services, Wentworth Tanner, noted that while women and children are often highlighted as the primary victims of gender-based violence, men are affected as well and often are not heard.
He said this led to the ministry’s decision to create a forum where the male population has a platform to discuss such issues and gain an understanding as it relates to violence.
“Most men do not see themselves as perpetrators, however, due to the fact only a few men participate in such activities many are unaware of what constitutes violence and how to address it. Therefore, the goal of this programme is to help the targeted audience (men) change their mindsets as it relates to violence against women and children,” Tanner explained.
Meanwhile, Manager of the Gender Affairs Bureau, Adel Lilly noted that “some offenders are often abused themselves and are unable to express themselves during their childhood.”
The Ministry of Social Protection is currently working to introduce more male-related programmes.

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Men trained to deal with violence in home


Guyana Times Editorial, December 7, 2018: As the annual ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’ campaign continues, the Social Protection Ministry hosted a programme that saw men from all walks of life participating, with the aims of eliminating all forms of violence against women.
Held under the theme ‘Hear me too: collective voices against gender-based violence’, the programme aims at targeting all males across the length and breadth of Guyana.
According to Social Services Director Whentworth Tanner, activities will be conducted in all 10 administrative regions. Tanner noted that, “We are working closely with the Regional Democratic Councils, but where we don’t have those collaborations, we are working through the Regional Women’s Affairs Committee”.
Tanner noted that the through the programme, men complained about not being heard in society as it relates to violence. This, he noted, caused the Ministry to set up a forum where men can freely discuss their social issues.
“Most men don’t see themselves as perpetrators but because a few men that participate in activities that are condemned by society, all men are painted with the same brush. We don’t want that so the goal of this activism programme is to be able to help the targeted audience which are men to change their mindsets as it relates to violence against women.”
Tanner also related that the Ministry is also working to introduce more male-related programmes where they can be trained in particular divisions which will in return be beneficial “not only to women but society also”.
Some of the topics discussed during the 16-day programme were sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence, poor health choices, male perpetrators of violence, masculinity and manhood and consequences and corrections.
The awareness session will conclude on December 10. The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign is a time to galvanise action to end violence against women and girls around the world. The international campaign originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.
Currently, more than 3700 organisations from approximately 164 countries participate in the campaign annually.
Joining these organisations this year is Voices Against Violence, an umbrella entity comprising non-government organisations, faith-based organisations, community-based organisations and other entities and activists that organise speak outs across Guyana.
This effort has been endorsed by the Ministry, which is partnering with Voices Against Violence; the Women and Gender Equality Commission and Help and Shelter.
Organisations, groups and communities are urged to bring people together and have them share experiences, personal or otherwise, on gender-based, child and sexual abuse as well as to brainstorm ideas which will address these scourges.
The idea is to create scope for victims to speak out since doing so is a form of catharsis that can also motivate and inspire other victims.

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Trump’s ‘successes’ have flattered to deceive


Wonder what do Trumpites think now that Trump’s ‘successes’ have flattered to deceive. Stock market is in continual chaos. Tax ‘reform’ has no long term trickle down benefits to middle and lower classes. Unemployment ‘increases’ are actually not factoring in the rising laid offs due to business closings after business closings. In fact there have been more closings under Trump that any of his predecessor. North Korea is a disaster as that Baby faced dictator took Gullible Trump for a ride. Trade with China is now more advantageous to China than it ever was with the deficit now at a record level. Not a single major business has moved back to the US. Debt has increased by over two trillion dollars and then some..a record of all records. Federal spending has ballooned to a record level also. Infrastructure has deteriorated to levels not ever see before. The environment is at the highest risk ever. Ethics and morality have taken record plunges. Division and discord are at record highs. Civility has gone on vacation. Racism is worse than it has been since the sixties. Immigration is in chaos. Mexico is never going to pay for that wall, which will also never materialize. Governance has never been so nasty and has never taken so many incursions into criminality. In short the glitter is gone and stupidity, crudeness, depravity and ignorance have been exposed to their very core!

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TCV hosts workshop to tackle social ills


With the aim of tackling a range of issues prevalent in the lives of adolescents and adults, The Caribbean Voice (TCV) in collaboration with Seva4Life (a Canada-based Non-Governmental Organisation) and the Yakusari Humanitarian Mission on Sunday last held a training workshop.
The workshop was housed at the Yakusari Resource Centre, Black Bush Polder, Region Six, which saw an acceptable turnout of teens and adults.
The sessions were deemed interactive as key focal points such as suicide and prevention – warning signs, depression, coping skills, self-acceptance, self-esteem, and self-care were among the topics covered – and abuse in all its forms, especially domestic and sexual abuse, were discussed.
These sessions also included role plays and even question-and-answer and

feedback segments. The TCV personnel were also overwhelmed by requests for help to deal with a range of issues, including rape, gender-based violence, depression and dysfunctional relationships, since these issues deeply affect the community.
While TCV is working to provide the necessary help, it also has plans to conduct follow-ups on clinical outreaches so as to be able to identify additional needs and address them.
The workshop panellists included: Dr Patrick Sixtus Edwards, Psychologist/Director of TCV; Ascena Jacobs, Probation and Social Services Officer/Volunteer with The Guyana Foundation; Carol Mancey, a Counsellor; Bibi Ahamad, an activist, advocate, and mentor counsellor of TCV along with volunteers Chandra Waston, Indi Ram, and Indra Ramcharran-Constantine.

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Guyanese fear getting involved in mental health issues


Guyanese don’t seem to be very familiar with the manifestations of social problems, and significant amounts of citizens worry about the implications of getting into other peoples’ business as it relates to mental health issues such as suicide, abuse, and alcoholism. They fear they might get hurt and point to several intermediaries being abused, badgered, killed and so on in this respect. Also they indicate that family members they seek to help could turn against them as has been the case in many situations. These are some of the findings of the latest survey conducted by The Caribbean Voice.
With respect to mental health, people in Berbice in particular say that patients are treated very badly at the National Psychiatric Hospital, often lacking food and medicines. They feel patients are worse off inside that institution than they are on the outside and would get more assistance outside from family members than in the institution. They also point to lack of security, as they feel patients easily escape and roam the streets of New Amsterdam in particular, often becoming a danger to other citizens.
The following were the questions and responses:
Would you be willing to volunteer within your
community to help deal with suicide and abuse?
Yes No Not Sure No Comment
58 06 28 08
This compares unfavorably with responses to a similar question in December 2014, when 96% indicated willingness to help with suicide and 66% with abuse. Also, myths and misinformation still holds significant sway, indicating the critical need for concerted, ongoing sensitisation and training.
If you hear someone say he or she wants to kill him/herself
would you immediately call the suicide helpline?
Yes No Not Sure No Comment
74 0 22 04
Many respondents continue to not be aware of the suicide helpline.
Should educators and supervisors be provided with special
training to identify and help students who are abused or suicidal?
Yes No Not Sure No Comment
78 02 14 06
A significant number of respondents don’t seem to know how to identify potential suicide cases. Many respondents fear their family’s reaction if they suggest that specific members are acting strange or may be suicidal. They feel they may be insulted or told to mind their own business. Similar feelings were expressed with regards to spousal or domestic abuse and alcoholism. Also, there is a general feeling that talking about suicide would encourage people to engage in suicide and/or drive attention to people who die by suicide.
Should government pass legal malpractice legislation?
Yes No Not Sure No Comment
72 04 18 06
Should government pass medical malpractice legislation?
Yes No Not Sure No Comment
80 06 10 04
Should government pass legislation that enables
victims of rape and abuse to sue the perpetrators?
Yes No Not Sure No Comment
82 00 12 06
Should persons with mental health issues in courts be mandated psychological evaluation?
Yes No Not Sure No Comment
62 08 20 10
Respondents feel that persons in court cases may pretend to be mad so as to avoid sentencing or paying for their crimes.
The survey, conducted in late October and early November, interviewed 820 respondents (336 Indians, 246 Africans, 148 Mixed, 82 Amerindians, 8 others) to yield a demographically representative sample of the adult (18 and over) population. People were polled randomly to make the sample as representative as possible — varied age, class, occupational, residential and religious categories as well as ethnicity and educational levels and geographical diversity.
The results of the poll were analysed at a 95 per cent significance level and a statistical sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points was found. This means that in theory, in 19 cases out of 20, the results based on such a sample will differ by no more than 4 percentage points in either direction from what should have been obtained by seeking to interview the whole adult population. Sampling results based on subgroups have a larger potential sampling error.

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Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence – Empowering Victims to Speak out


Janet (name changed to protect identity) is a very strong, college-educated woman who, at the request of her husband, gave up her job to stay at home after marriage. She may not have known that being asked to do so was a form of abuse. Soon enough contacts with friends and family were restricted as was movement outside of the home. Then the beatings started. By then a child had arrived and so Janet thought that it was in the best interest of her child that a traditional family should continue to exist. Besides, her husband was a charmer when he was not a monster and she continued to see glimpses of the person she fell in love with and got married to. So she vowed to do what was necessary to keep that while hoping that her love would change the abuser. Meanwhile, the abuse increased, fueled by bouts of alcoholic haze. Then Janet found out that her husband was having an affair. When she confronted him he walked away leaving her penniless. Initially devastated, Janet was able to move on and rebuild her life becoming both financially self-sustaining and an empowerment activist helping other victims.

Beverly Gooden, an American writer who started #WhyIStayed on Twitter, writes on her site that for her, leaving an abusive situation was “a process, not an event.” She explained in a series of tweets the many reasons it took her so long to get out: she once tried to leave the house, but her abuser slept in front of the door to block her; a pastor told her that God hates divorce; her husband said he would change; she needed time to find a place to go and money to survive once she left; she thought love conquered all; she was isolated from friends and family who lived halfway across the country. Indeed victims continue to remain in abusive relationships for many reasons including financial dependence, the children, fear, religion, isolation, ‘love’, family and societal pressure and because a certain amount of abuse has been normalized to the extent that many women accept such abuse as a given in a relationships and some even still equate that abuse with love.

In fact there was the case of a woman who told her sister that her consistently abusive husband was going to kill her. Yet neither the woman nor her sister reported to the police or sought help, and the sister made this disclosure public only after the woman was murdered. And the case of the twenty-one year mother of one who summoned the courage to leave the abusive relationship and go back to her parents’ home but the family refused to go to the police, take any legal action or even accept counseling because of palpable fear driven into them by the abuser. Or the case of the abused wife of a policeman who never went to the police because her abuser told her that his police buddies would do nothing. Or even the case of a victim whose husband holds high status in society and is actually an anti-abuse ‘advocate’ so no one believes her when she shares her experiences of abuse.

As well, we have come across a number of cases on social media that were referred to the traditional media but which never published anything. Since we had no way of contacting the victims we felt that the media had the capacity to contact them, tell their story and hopefully catalyze police action to bring the abusers to justice. We also know of cases of abuse in situations where the abusers are rich and so the victims are often in denial or feel that the materially comfortable lifestyles are a worthwhile tradeoff for the abuse.

In effect, femicide and gender based abuse are reaching crisis proportions in Guyana. The media has been doing a great job of focusing attention on and advocating for action to address thus scourge. Now can the police set up a mechanism so cases can be directly referred to them? Of course, the actions of some police continue to leave much to be desired. The case of the officer who accompanied the victim to her home so she could collect personal belongings and then left her there resulting in her murder made headlines and the line minister’s response is not exactly what was expected. We also know of cases, some of which have been publicized, of victims being ridiculed and insulted when they go to the police station to report abuse. Then there is the case of the woman being stripped naked in the lockups because the police thought she was suicidal. Bribery allegations against the police also continue to be shared by victims. No wonder so many victims refuse to go to the police.

Concerted, ongoing police training is thus an absolute necessity and perhaps it’s also time for police to be fitted with body cams. Also needed is legislation to ensure cases go to trial even when victims refuse to testify and for the public to be made aware of the services offered by the government and other stakeholders so victims can be encouraged to walk away with the road ahead not as bleak and hopeless as they may have thought. In fact there are quite a number of NGOs, including The Caribbean Voice and other members of Voices Against Violence, that offer a range of services, including counseling, legal assistance and safe houses.

As the government gets ready to observe another 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, we urge that consideration be given to some suggestions recently put forward by the Registrar of Barbados’ Supreme Court, Barbara Cooke-Alleyne: introducing electronic monitoring equipment for violent offenders; appointing legal aid for victims without representation; increasing the length of time for counseling for victims (vision of counseling for all victims); and removing penalties for false accusations, so victims would be less afraid to speak out.

Janet was among the few who eventually spoke out on publicly, something that many who walk away and put their lives back together are reluctant to do. This is why VAV has decided to observe 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence by organizing speak outs sessions across Guyana. VAV is a gathering of NGOs and other stakeholders that, three years ago launched the Annual National Anti-Violence Candlelight Vigil, which has seen 1000 plus vigils organized across Guyana since its launch. It is an attempt to forge that collaboration that everyone from the President downwards, have been and continue to call for. Domestic Violence activists, advocates and other stakeholders emphasize that speaking out is important for many reasons. It can happen to anyone, regardless of age, social background, gender, ethnicity, education level or wealth and in all kinds of relationships: heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Also it happens all year round, can be physical, emotional, psychological, financial or sexual and the abuse becomes more frequent over time. Ignoring it condones it. It is not acceptable and should not be tolerated as everyone has the right to live a life free from violence.

Gender-based violence has a higher rate of repeat victimisation than any other crime and is caused by the abuser’s desire for power and control. Thus the abused individual constantly lives in fear and is unable to predict when the next attack will come, yet becomes increasingly dependent on the abuser leading to isolation from friends, family, colleagues and to the individual accepting the blame for the abuse and denying the fact that it’s actually happening. Individuals can develop post-traumatic stress which includes a range of symptoms: agitation and anxiety, depression, panic attacks, trouble sleeping or relaxing, numbness, sense of isolation, nightmares. One of the most serious risks to children in our society, domestic violence leads to anxiety, depression, truancy and the possible fear of abandonment in children. It will contribute to removing the fear of being ridiculed or disbelieved by friends and family members. The bottom line is that no child should have to live with the thoughts of violence or fear. Speaking out encourages more individuals to seek support from specialist support organizations and could save lives, especially since victims are often murdered by abusers, or end up taking their lives.

From 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world. The international campaign originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute. Currently, more than 3,700 organizations from approximately 164 countries participate in the campaign annually. For the first time organizations in Guyana are joining this effort. The speak outs are being supported the Women & Gender Equality Commission, Help and Shelter, the WPO and The Caribbean Voice. At the time of completing this article, about a dozen speak outs have been planned by organizations such as Golden Om Dharmic Youth, Emerging Young Leaders, Guyana Women’s Roundtable, Orchid Foundation, Young Pioneers, Young Champion’s Network and others, including a number of activists, in various parts of Guyana. Organizations, groups and communities are urged to bring people together and have them share experiences, personal or otherwise, on gender based, child and sexual abuse as well as brainstorm on ideas to address these scourges. These ideas will be gathered together and shared with relevant government ministries and agencies as well as the media.

Speak Out sessions do not need large attendances; in fact small groups create intimate circles that can make victims much more comfortable as they share. Guest speakers are not necessary. Anyone can moderate a session. Organizers are urged to video the sessions so they can be used for sensitization, advocacy and activism. For additional information and/or support to organize speak outs please send email to emergingyoungleaders18@gmail.com, youngpioneeers592@gmail.com or caribvoice@aol.com or call 612-9488, 665-7547 or 621-6111.

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Continuing the fight against domestic violence


Guyana Chronicle Editorial, November 18, 2018: THIS publication has repeatedly highlighted the need for initiatives and programmes to fight the pervasive social malady known as gender-based or domestic violence. The Government of Guyana, which obviously shares the concern, continues to work towards eradicating the problem.

First Lady Mrs. Sandra Granger has expressed the view shared by government and experts on the subject; the First Lady said, “It is critical that empirical research is conducted into the root causes of violence in our society, and particularly gender-based violence, so we can analyse and determine how it may be addressed and eliminated through government-stakeholder action.”

Following up on this approach to the problem, a new initiative is set to begin on November 25. The campaign called, ‘16 Days of Activism’ is a collaborative effort among the government, the non-governmental organisation known as The Caribbean Voice and the United Nations Women’s Initiative. The campaign which aims to reduce acts of gender-based violence in Guyana, will conduct education, sensitisation and solution-oriented sessions during the 16 days of planned activities.

Gender-based violence is a major problem in Guyana, with incidents of violence against women having increased by some 14.2 per cent over the last six years. Statistics show that there is a geographic component to the problem, with the highest number of crimes being committed in Essequibo Islands-West Demerara, Demerara-Mahaica, and the East Berbice-Corentyne regions. Those three regions alone account for three quarters of all reports.

In August 2018, at the opening of the 20th biennial convention of the National Congress of Women, President Granger said, “Unless we take concerted action to eliminate violence against women, we will never remove the scourge of inequality. People will not find it even necessary to consider providing equal access for girlchildren to go to school. We need to deal with this problem of violence against girls and women. It is not easy; it is not just sexual violence. It is physical violence as well. It is chopping and killing, murder…It is the daily subjugation and suppression of women…”

In addition to short-duration programmes such as 16 Days of Activism, Guyana’s government also recognises the need for long-term approaches and international cooperation and collaboration, as part of a comprehensive, holistic methodology.
In March, the UK’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security 2018-2022 was launched in Guyana. This international strategy seeks to reduce and eventually eliminate gender-based violence – particularly against women – by employing scientifically sound approaches, as part of the UK’s efforts to meet its declared international objectives and obligations in Guyana.

The five-year National Action Plan is built on four pillars: prevention of conflict and all forms of violence against women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations; participation with women equally with men with gender equality being promoted in decision-making processes on peace and security at all levels; protection and promotion of women’s and girls’ rights in conflict situations; and relief and recovery with women and girls’ specific needs met.

At the launch of that programme, First Lady Mrs. Sandra Granger lamented, “It seems not a single day passes without a report of someone being raped, brutalised, or murdered, usually by an intimate partner or previously intimate partner.”
In his remarks at that event, British High Commissioner to Guyana Gregg Quinn said that, “globally, one in three women are beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime.” He commented that, “beating your wife or girlfriend does not make you a man; it makes you a coward.”

Domestic violence is a persistent and major problem throughout the world and its effects are known. According to the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA), “Domestic violence damages the prospects for economic and social development of every country, not just the lives of the victims.”

Regarding the major cause of domestic violence, CAFRA said, “domestic violence has been described as “systemic and structural, a mechanism of patriarchal control of women that is built on male superiority and female inferiority, sex-stereotyped roles and expectations, and economic, social, and political predominance of men and dependency of women.”
CAFRA noted, “The 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and the 1994 Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (Convention of Belem do Pará) were developed to explicitly guarantee women’s right to live free from violence.”

Considering the fact that Guyana is known to have a major domestic-violence problem, and being signatories to numerous international treaties and conventions to eradicate the scourge, and most importantly, knowing that gender-based or domestic violence is a crime against the humanity of women, the initiatives, programmes, and various undertakings should not only be continued, but expanded and intensified.

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