It has been established that the vast majority of domestic violence cases involve male
Studies show that domestic violence occurs in every culture, country, and age group. It affects people from all socioeconomic, educational and religious backgrounds. Children and people living with disabilities are also affected by domestic violence, even if they are not abused or do not witness it directly.
Between 2013 and 2014 a number of domestic violence cases against women were filed at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
In observance of International Women’s Day (IWD), the University of Guyana in collaboration with the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) hosted a public presentation on research done on ‘The Prosecution of Domestic Violence Cases Against Women in Guyana: Successes and Lessons Learnt.’
The event was held at the Theatre Guild last week Wednesday.
The research conducted by Attorney-at-Law Chandrawattie Persaud assessed the prosecution rate of perpetrators of domestic violence against women at the City Court.
Present at the event were newly appointed Chief Justice (ag) Roxanne George-Wiltshire; Minister of Social Protection, Dr George Norton; Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Dr. Barbara Reynolds; Deputy Vice Chancellor of Philanthropy, Alumni and Civic Engagement (PACE), Professor Paloma Mohamed among others.
Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana Professor Ivelaw Griffith was not present at the event. But a video was shown with him sending out greetings for IWD.
The forum was attended mostly by women. The audience was allowed interactive discussion with members on a panel of which included Justice George-Wiltshire.
During her presentation, Persaud pointed out that the research was intended to find the prosecution rate of perpetrators of domestic violence against women at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts for the period 2013 and 2014.
The study, she said, also looked at factors that might have affected the successful outcome of the cases.
Currently there is general data on the number of domestic violence matters filed at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts but no statistical data.
“The study was done as a cross sectional design. Such a design resulted in the selection of all case jackets for women victim cases of domestic violence using a structured questionnaire.
“Descriptive statistics and tables were used to present the findings for complaints and charges, the outcomes and prosecutors’ training.”
The questionnaires were also used to gather information from prosecutors.
She said that at the time of conceptualization of the research, she wanted to look at information over a period of five years and what was the positive outcome of the Domestic Violence Act of 1996.
Persaud added that while domestic violence matters are filed under the Domestic Violence Act, many criminal charges are filed against perpetrators of domestic violence against women under the Criminal Law Offences Act.
As far as Persaud is aware, this is the first study of its kind being done at the city court as well as the first electronic data base on such type of information in Guyana. She however acknowledged that the data may be limited.
During her presentation, she reminded that domestic violence has received much prominence over the past two decades since it has been placed on the national agenda. According to her, because of the sensitive nature of the issue, there is significant under reporting of domestic violence.
Globally published figures suggest that women victims far outweigh men victims, she noted.
Persaud stated that data on the prosecution of domestic violence matter exist mostly in North America; while there is some data on prosecution in Latin America and the Caribbean. She however, said the question of the success rate of prosecution in these regions remains unanswered.
She explained that domestic violence is a serious public health issue and a significant cause of morbidity and mortality of women globally. She added that previously, injuries were seen as the only health outcome of violence
“But this changed as research found that calculated illnesses were associated with intimate partner violence and sexual abuse of women. These illnesses included drug and alcohol abuse, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, mental health, emotional health and gynecological problems…”
Persaud continued, “These studies found that women in relationships with violence are four times at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection than women who are not in violent relationships.”
The findings of the research conducted at the City Court will be published in a later edition.
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