Domestic violence has become a worrying problem throughout Guyana. It crosses racial and socio-economic lines. Although the law prohibits domestic violence and gives women the right to seek prompt protection, yet they are being physically assaulted and murdered by their partners.
Studies have indicated that between 30 and 45 percent of women in Guyana have experienced some form of violence in their relationships. Physical abuse of women by their male partners is among the most common and dangerous forms of gender-based violence in the country.
The pervasiveness of domestic violence in society suggests that it is neither random nor isolated, nor can it be explained by abnormal characteristics of the abuser or the victim. Rather, domestic violence is systemic. It is the patriarchal control of society that is built on a misguided premise of male superiority and female inferiority, the economic and political predominance of men, and in many cases the dependency of women.
While many theories have been advanced to explain the scourge, there is no simple explanation for it other than the widespread consensus that gender inequality is at its root.
Certainly, any solution must go beyond the individual characteristics of the men, women and the family. The authorities must look to the structure of relationships and the role of society in underpinning that structure. It is perhaps best to conclude that domestic violence is a function of the belief fostered in all cultures, that men are superior to women and that their female partners are their possessions that they can treat as they wish and as they consider appropriate.
Men have been murdering their female partners with frightening frequency in Guyana.
This is an opportune time for all in society, but more so educators to get a better understanding of the causes of domestic violence and the role that schools play, knowingly or unknowingly in the propagation of this phenomenon.While most in society condemn all forms of violence, it is a statistical fact that violence against women by men is a stain on the cultural and social fabric of the country.
In addressing the issue, it would be wise to look at the problem from a social, cultural and historical context. It is important to understand that boys do not just become violent men overnight. They are very often socialized into violent behaviour, which unfortunately has pervaded society in many forms–psychological, verbal and physical. It is glorified by some in the entertainment industry.
In homes and communities, boys are witnesses to girls and women being abused by men, with physical violence used as a weapon of control. These images, having been implanted in their minds from a very tender age, are reflected in their behaviour and attitudes towards girls at school. Teaching boys to respect girls and women at school very often leaves them confused, because they hear one thing in school but live another at home and in their communities.
In Guyana, as in many other countries, the modes of socialization are still rooted in the old notions of patriarchy, whereby men are considered head of the household.This kind of thinking is primitive and is even perpetuated by mothers themselves, so messages from teachers to the contrary only serve to heighten the state of confusion among boys.
Compounding the situation is the way teachers perceive the issue of domestic violence. Schools must break the cycle of violence by men against women. They should begin the process of addressing domestic violence against women as part of their mandate to create a better society.Changing the thinking of boys should not be too difficult, given the fact that approximately 70 percent of the teaching fraternity is female. It is the social responsibility of teachers, who are considered society’s architects of the future, to lead the transformation efforts in their quest to produce good, decent, productive human beings. Boys must be guided into understanding and embracing the redefined role of women in society. They must respect and treat women as equals and not as property.
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