Men overboard – ending the degrading of our women


By Tony Deyal

“Well, the girls in town nowadays they wearin’ these tight, tight pants,
And if you ketch them a night-time boys, well, they have no chance,
So listen carefully to what the Young Killer have to say,
Only wear these tight, tight pants on Carnival Day.”
– Trinidad Calypso of the Fifties

Our media tend to be much more of a mirror than a lamp. They far too often only reflect the values of our society rather than illumine a way forward. This calypso is typical.

For my generation, it was a statement of fact – rape was the woman’s fault because she teased, tempted, provoked and seduced the poor man. Interestingly, this was in a society and at a time when women, even more than today, were the bulwark of our socialisation and the foundation of our culture and values.

So what has changed and what caused the changes?

In my schooldays, I remember laughing uproariously when told about a woman who ran into a police station saying that she had been “graped.” The desk-sergeant said,

“You mean ‘raped’.”

“No,” she insisted. “It was a whole bunch of them.”

I have long passed that stage and shudder at who I was and what I found funny. I shudder even more when I realise that there are still many of us, individuals and interest groups, including women, who have not.

Our male pastimes do not seem to have changed much. Whether in Bridgetown or Belmont, Kingstown or Georgetown, our young, and not-so-young men, still take great, and sometimes sadistic delight, in heckling and harassing women as they stroll, walk, jog or run past.

It starts off in seeming innocence.

“Pssst! Darling!”

It continues as light-hearted banter.

“Of all my sugars, you are my granulated!”

When the woman does not stroke their egos by responding, it disintegrates, degenerates and decomposes into abuse and obscenity.

“Who (expletives deleted) you think you is?”, etc.

‘SHE NEEDS A HUSBAND’

Every feminine problem, every female boss or “bossy” female, is perceived as requiring one remedy, which is generally masculine.

A radical female Member of Parliament in Trinidad in the mid-nineties was imprisoned for championing the cause of flood-victims.

Her father is quoted as explaining his daughter’s behaviour, “She needs a husband.” I have heard that said of women by women. I have also heard worse. The complaining male often believes that the woman needs either a gift of himself, benevolently bestowed, or a “good” male sexual organ, generally his, or a “good” bout of sexual activity, generally administered by him. That clearly has not changed so much as worsened.

When a woman is raped, it is perceived, as in the calypso, as her fault. There is far too often an outright callousness about it all from the police, the media, the courts, and the society at large, including other women.

So many times, I have heard someone say about a rape victim, “She look for that!”

Looking at ‘Loop’ news for Trinidad and Tobago, I found that this month, between January 9 and 18, six men were charged for rape, one of them with raping a 13-year-old girl.

Loop Jamaica, three days ago, on January 22, reported that several lawsuits have been filed against Jamaican-based hospitality industry resorts in the United States Federal Court. In Barbados, a man accused of raping and kidnapping a minor was granted bail of BDS$10,000, despite objections by the prosecution that the man used intimidation and also coerced and demanded from the victim responses “she was unable to consent to”.

HIGHEST RATES OF SEXUAL ASSAULT IN THE CARIBBEAN

The facts are that over one third of the region’s women report incidents of intimate or sexual violence. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, every one of the Caribbean islands has a sexual violence rate that is higher than the world average.

This is supported by the UK Guardian newspaper, “The Caribbean has among the highest rates of sexual assault in the world: according to United Nations statistics from 2015, one in three women has experienced sexual or physical violence at least once in their lives. And it is estimated that 14-38 per cent of women have experienced intimate partner violence at least once.”

Recent research in Antigua, St Kitts & Nevis; Jamaica; Belize and Grenada confirmed lengthy delays in the investigation and prosecution of cases.

What bothers me is that this same Caribbean society puts mothers on a pedestal and our culture is saturated with songs about mothers and their special love.

To “cuss” someone’s mother or sister is still an act of war. And yet the dichotomy persists. I am more and more unable to make the distinction between “mother” and “woman” or reconcile myself to it.

Mother, wife or daughter, they all have the right to be themselves and to say no. They should be able to walk the streets, parks and beaches – anywhere and everywhere – unmolested.

Mark Twain was once asked, “In a world without women, what would men become?”
“Scarce, sir,” he replied. “Mighty scarce.” Our present attitude to rape should become even scarcer.

Rape is not an act of love, or of passion, or even of sex. It is a wanton abuse of power – literally an act of naked aggression.

One day, many years ago, my older daughter and I were in my car when some men, in another car, were heckling a woman walking along the pavement.

They slowed and all their eyes, including the driver’s, were on her as they commented loudly and belligerently on what they would like to do to her and what they would like her to do to them.

Their car ran straight into a lamp-post. My daughter grinned and looked at me and said, “Dad, there is a God after all.”

– Tony Deyal was last seen quoting US President Donald Trump, “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything…Whatever you want. Grab ’em by the p****. You can do anything.” Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com

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Counselors must be adequately qualified


In 2014 the number of clinical counselors in Guyana could have been counted on the fingers. Today that situation has not significantly improved, but at least there are now quite a number of graduates in Psychology with more on the way. While it is generally accepted that a counselor should have a masters, at a minimum, as well as clinical experience before being dubbed a counselor, those with a first degree may be able to provide a level of counseling after gaining clinical experience and adequate supervision.

However, there are quite a number of individuals who dub themselves counselors without even a first degree in psychology, much less clinical experience. The Caribbean Voice and other concerned stakeholders are calling upon the Ministries of Public Health and Social Protection respectively to please act on this situation to protect vulnerable citizens.

Such actions must include a mentoring framework for first-degree holders, as well as a set amount of supervised hours of practice and a licensing exam. Just as importantly those without the minimum requisites should be held accountable for claiming to be and/or practising as counselors.

The Caribbean Voice has among our Diaspora members, a mental health consultant who has experience in licensing protocols, having worked with the International Registry of Counselor Education Programs. She has indicated a willingness to help set up a licensing mechanism in Guyana.

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An appeal once again for sensitive reporting on suicide


THE point has been made numerous times that the media has an important role to play in influencing social attitudes towards and perceptions of suicide and mental illness and must therefore ensure appropriate reporting of suicide and mental illness in order to minimise harm and copycat behaviour and reduce the stigma and discrimination experienced by people with mental illness.

Of specific note are recent reports about a suicide death on the ECD for which media reportage speculated about the cause and ended up making assertions about supposed conflicts that served to create a great deal of tension between the families of the victim and her spouse on the one hand and a great deal of distress for family members on both sides. At a time when both families were grappling to come to terms with a death that was avoidable, such reportage not only smacked of sensationalism but contravened all the basic parameters for reportage in general and suicide reportage in particular.

So once again The Caribbean Voice calls on the Ministry of Public Health to ensure that media avoid counter-productive coverage, by consistently and continually releasing guidelines for media, especially with respect to what should be avoided and what should be included.

AVOID:
• Details of the method
• The word “suicide” in the headline
• Photo(s) of the deceased
• The word commit with reference to suicide.
• Admiration of the deceased
• The idea that suicide is unexplainable
• Repetitive or excessive coverage
• Front page coverage
• Exciting reporting
• Romanticized reasons for the suicide
• Simplistic reasons for the suicide
• Speculations about causes
• Language that seeks to apportion blame
• Approval of the suicide

CONVEY:
• Alternatives to suicide (i.e. treatment)
• Community resource information for those with suicidal ideation
• Examples of a positive outcome of a suicidal crisis (i.e. calling a suicide hotline)
• Warning signs of suicidal behaviour
• How to approach a suicidal person including use of emphatic communication.
• Strategies to build self-esteem and provide coping skills.
• Contact info to get help, such as the Suicide Helpline
The training for media personnel provided some time ago by PAHO needs to continually reinforced by media houses and/or the Guyana Press Association. In this respect The Caribbean Voice stands ready to offer such training on a periodic basis.

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The Caribbean Voice is very active


Contrary to rumors being peddled in some quarters in Guyana, The Caribbean Voice is very active. This month alone we had a community mental health workshop at Yakusari, Black Bush Polder and two students’ workshops at a high needs high school at Ash Youth Developers Education Learning Institute, Vigilance, ECD.
In recognition of the need to maximize impact and ensure positive results, all workshops going forward, will be followed up with ongoing work over a longer period of time. Later this month, we have an interaction with parents.
This would be followed up with a series of teachers’ workshops, and ongoing programmes for parents and students at the same school.
In the same vein early in the New Year we will have a mental health intervention at Yakusari to determine needs and to work with other stakeholders to meet those needs.
Our advocacy and information dissemination continues with letters and articles published in newspapers and online and interviews with broadcast media. And our seven social media pages continue to garner thousands of views daily, extending our reach globally and enabling beneficial interactions and collaboration.
This month we are conducting another of our surveys in Guyana, our fifth so far. Meanwhile plans are afoot to launch broadcast media programs in Guyana in the new year as well as online webinars and instructional/learning videos.
We continue to build collaboration. Recently we had meetings with Ministry of Social Protection, the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha and the Women and Gender Equality Commission. As a result, we participated in a forum at UG on gender-based violence and another one at the Regency Suites, both organized by the Women and Gender Equality Commission.
The Ministry of Social Protection has invited us to participate in its two weekly radio programmes. And we will be collaborating with the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha with respect to their upcoming anti-bullying and sexual abuse/teenage pregnancy campaigns.
Furthermore, we have been invited by USAID to attend and participate ina conference on Caribbean Youth Violence in Guyana next month and by the International Association for Suicide Prevention to attend and participate in a suicide prevention conference in Trinidad in May.
Recently, we worked along with other members of Voices Against Violence (comprising over 50 NGOs and a number of social activists) to, for the first time, spearhead speak outs to mark the Annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, which is observed globally from November 25 to December 10.
This effort was well supported by and mentioned in the media many times including in two different editorials and will now become an annual initiative. We have one speak out video attracting attention on social media with others will soon follow.
In collaboration with other members of Voices Against Violence, we continue to provide or source counseling for victims of abuse, those who are suicidal and those who are depressed or need counseling for whatever reasons.
Over the last couple of months quite a number of cases have been handled in various parts of Guyana, with many individuals and organizations joining hands to bring help to those in need. In this respect we will be creating/launching an app to enable persons anywhere in the Guyana to quickly and easily reach out for assistance.
Finally we again repeat that for TCV social activism is not a competition. We applaud all entities working on this landscape as each brings additional support and enlightenment with the end result being saving lives and empowering people.

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More awareness needed to fight gender-based violence in 2019 – Social Services Director


In keeping with the ‘Men Against Gender-Based Violence’ campaign, the Social Protection Ministry has released its plans for 2019 as it relates to putting an end to violence against women and girls around the world.
These programmes are geared at raising awareness while eliminating all forms of violence against women in particular.
Director within the Social Protection Ministry, Whentworth Tanner, stated that the Ministry has recognised the need for men to be trained in particular divisions which will in return be beneficial “not only to women but society also”.
“Based on our interactions with males, they believe that they are not being heard and there are all painted with the same brush by society. As a result, we wanted to set up a forum where men are comfortable to discuss those issues and also assist in fixing those issues”.
Tanner revealed that there are plans to introduce programmes in schools which is expected to target toddlers (from three years and older).
“The school programmes will target boys from three years old and it will teach them how to deal with certain situations involving girls and how to also work around certain issues. Basically, the programme is to teach them how to refrain from violence against girls and women – as they grow older”.
The Director also noted that these activities will be conducted in all 10 administrative regions. Further, he disclosed that the Ministry through the Regional Women’s Affairs Committee will be working closely with the Regional Democratic Councils on these projects.
“Addressing the issues with women alone will not fix the problem, we have to involve all persons. We taught that this is a really good opportunity because if men are informed, they will be able to pass down that information and also be able to correct their colleagues”.
These comments came on the heels of the recently concluded annual ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’ campaign.
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-governmental 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.
The campaign was 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. (Yanalla Dalrymple)

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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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