The ball is in Government’s court


Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan has suggested that better parenting, schooling, and religious and community involvement are important to tackle domestic violence. The Hon. Minister must know that political will, more than anything else, can ensure the needed mechanisms:
Parent-Teacher Associations hold monthly parenting training for members. Government supports umbrella religious bodies to organize regular parenting sessions at mandirs, churches and mosques. Perhaps a representative coordinating body can be set up?
Sensitivity training for all police officers to address police disregard for abuse complaints and bribery in return for doing nothing or engaging in personal attempts at mediation and monitoring bodies to prevent same, among other issues.
There is the Gatekeepers’ Programme to ensure first responders in every community. The Caribbean Voice plans to implement this programme next year and we welcome the Ministry’s collaboration. We promise we won’t ask for money.
Ministry of Education directives for all educators to be mandatory reporters, once abuse is suspected, identified or reported, as is the case in many nations.
A national survey to determine the root causes of domestic violence, perhaps spearheaded by the University of Guyana, which already has the required skills and capacity.
In effect the ball is totally in the government’s court, which, to date, has played nothing shots. For example: In February 2015, The Caribbean Voice and other stakeholders met with the Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Control Board (PTCCB) at which it was agreed that the PTCCB would unveil an adaptation of the Shri Lankan Model of Hazard Reduction, which had reduced pesticide suicide in that nation by 50% in about a decade. Nothing has since been heard about that proposed unveiling.
After our August 2015 National Stakeholders’ Conference on Suicide and Related Issues, Minister Ramjattan informed TCV that President Granger had directed him and the Prime Minister to provide all necessary help to TCV’s. We’re still waiting for any form of assistance.
Last year when a special sitting of parliament was held to discuss suicide prevention, The Caribbean Voice was one of two NGOs invited to make a presentation. However our invitation did not come from Government but from the local office of an international organization.
Since we launched our Youth and Student Workshop in 2016 continuous efforts to obtain Government’s permission (just permission, nothing else) to take it to public schools, have met with no success, even though many schools have requested the workshop.
Since 2015 continuous efforts to obtain government (non-material) support for a National Youth and Suicide Essay Contest on suicide with US$5,000 in prizes has met with no success.
Last year the Government voted against a Bill to decriminalize attempted suicide to prevent the Opposition from getting credit for it.
Last year when we planned a weekend intervention in Region Two, our request for our team to be accommodated overnight at the government guesthouse, was rejected because TCV was “a PPP organization”, an assertion that has no basis in reality.
Last year, also, a request for a meeting with then Police Commissioner was rejected with an unfounded assertion that TCV had supposedly campaigned at the 2015 elections. Incidentally, Minister Ramjattan had set up such a meeting in 2015 but a few days prior we were informed that the meeting was postponed as the Commissioner had an urgent matter to attend to.
Subsequent communication to have the meeting reset went unacknowledged.
Last month, at a meeting with Minister Ramjattan’s personal assistant, a broad range of issues was raised. A response, sent to us on April 17, ignored all the items discussed but stated that “the Ministry of Public Security Budget cannot accommodate additional budget lines to its existing work programmes.” Yet we merely requested $50,000 to print flyers for the National Anti-Violence Candlelight Vigil held on World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10.
Since its inception by Voices Against Violence, (an umbrella of almost 100 entities across Guyana), two years ago, 800 plus vigils have been held across Guyana. Incidentally, we reached out to the Minister based on his offer of support in a recent Kaieteur News interview.
There is much more but the above make the case.

About caribvoice

Free lance journalist, educator and community activist. Guyana born New York based.
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