After a one year hiatus, members of the National Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Violence, (NTFPSV) have reconvened.
The meeting of NTFPSV was hosted Thursday last by officials attached to the Ministry of Social Protection.
According to the officials, the meeting was reconvened to address a number of matters related to the NTFPSV including a review of its Terms of Reference (TORS).
“The meeting was to seek commitment from stakeholders towards its implementation of the TORS; to clarify the roles of the members and to identify if additional members are required, as well as identify and endorse key actions required for the organization of the NTFPSV,” a Ministry official told Kaieteur News
“Hopefully we will meet regularly. The NTFPSV is supposed to meet at least once each quarter of the year but that has not been happening. The last time we met regularly was in 2016,”the official added
The NTFPSV is an integral part of the Sexual Offences Act of 2010. The Sexual Offences Act deals with the prevention of sexual crimes. Such a task force is needed to address awareness and monitor the implementation of the law.
The Act provides for the President to appoint members of the Task Force, which shall consist of Ministers of Social Security, Education, Health, Legal Affairs, Social Protection, Indigenous People’s Affairs, as well as senior public officers with responsibility for human and social services, health, law enforcement and non-governmental organizations.
The sexual offences task force plays an important role in ensuring the provisions of the legislation are upheld. Among other things, one of the objectives of the task force is to educate the public about the prevention of sexual violence. In addition, the task force is expected to play a key role in the implementation of the 2017-2021 action for plan sexual offences and domestic violence.
The 2017-2021 national plan is intended to be implemented throughout Guyana by the Sexual Violence Unit of the Ministry of Social Protection, under the guidance of the National Task Force on Sexual and Domestic Violence. It will serve as a guide to prevent and respond to violence against individuals.
The plan was operationalised by Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally.
In her address at the launch, Ally spoke of the need for the plan of action, given the upsurge in sexual violence cases and social ills in Guyana.
Minister Ally noted that the National Task Force on Sexual and Domestic Violence has a critical role to play in making key recommendations and policy decisions which will impact the lives of victims, as well as perpetrators.
“It is important for all members of the task force to provide their comments and feedback on the plan of action so that we can ensure it is launched on the proposed scheduled date…if we don’t get feedback we will not be able to implement the plan effectively,” Minister Ally explained.
Pointing to the statistics, Ally pointed out the need for implementation.
She noted that despite an increase in convictions for sexual offences annually; sex-related offences continue to dominate the criminal assizes across the three counties. Last year for instance, of the 301 cases listed for the June session of the Demerara Criminal Assizes, a startling 177 are for sexual offences.
Of these 177 sexual offence cases, 126 are for cases involving children; either sexual activity (no penetration) or rape (penetration). This means that sex-related offences accounted for 59 percent of the cases on the list.
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