Dec 02, 2020 Letters
In the land of many waters and races, it’s not raining cats and dogs and spices, but, crooks and crimes and everything not nice. We’re cooking up a storm, especially with the Christmas season brewing its own attractions. Violence is certainly in the air, contesting with the implications of COVID-19. We eat, sleep, breathe, work, act, play and live with violence. At the said time, we cannot overrule practising violence, teaching violence and leading by violence. As recent as Monday, a man from the Ruimveldt area chopped a woman and then committed suicide, after the woman refused to allow him to have a relationship with her 14-year-old daughter. Last Sunday, a 26 year-old man was killed while defending his wife from bandits in the North West District. A salesman was shot and wounded during an attempted robbery in Berbice over the week end. On Saturday, one man chopped his drinking buddy while imbibing alcohol, in the North West District. Yesterday, a man was stabbed several times while walking home in the Linden area. Last Friday in Linden, a 54 year-old man was found dead with slits on his throat and wrist. We are only three quarters of a million people in population and the tried, tired and tested police force is perpetually challenged in attending, preventing and solving crime, inwardly and outwardly in good, old Guyana.
Once again, the propitious First Lady, Aliya Ali, is leading from the forefront with a band of esteemed players, bringing an awareness of gender violence to highlight the damage and dangers perpetuated by this pernicious disease that is so cancerous in our society. Its tentacles crawl in all walks of life in this gifted land of unbelievable potentials and continue to domicile in a dominant manner, infamously bi-weekly, without exaggeration or pride. The hard working wife of the President, Mrs. Ali, along with the Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, High Commission of Canada and Suriname, Janine Cocker and UN Resident Coordinator Robert Natielo, led a tree-wrapping event on Monday along Main Street, Georgetown. Her conscious effort serves to promote the discouragement of domestic abuse, truncate its nuisance and stamp out the root cause.
Its effects are devastating and 17 mothers were killed so far this year, leaving 43 children in broken homes. There are many economical, sociological and psychological issues implicating its attributions. This exercise is part of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence campaign and in collaboration with the United Nations theme, “Orange the world: Fund, Prevent, Respond, Collect.” Mrs. Ali was appropriately dressed in the bright colour, orange. Minister, Dr. Vindhya Persaud explained that the colour orange was chosen because it “represents resilience, strength and endurance and those are the qualities that we ask persons who move from the stage of victimhood to survivors.” Violence against women is a heinous crime that is a breach of human rights and is one of the hardest challenges to the world, especially in Asia where its prevalence is uncontrollable. The Ministry has launched its “# enough with the violence” campaign on International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls, its theme advocating, no more beating, no more hurting, no more killing of our women. The honourable president’s wife was instrumental, ensuring that the State House was Monday evening lit with orange lights in solidarity and to bring more awareness to the issue.
Domestic violence remains a taboo, shuttered behind closed doors and only emerging as bloody faces, bruised limbs, broken spirits and dead bodies. Still, some women are afraid to admit that they are victims of violence. Women usually face years of abuse. Were relatives and neighbours aware of this and if so, why did they choose to remain silent? Some factors that cause women not to speak up when they are being abused are fear of societal judgment, insecurities about children and finances, family pressure and manipulation. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many women have been kept in close proximity to their abusers, and reporting has become challenging. The COVID-19 pandemic has further contributed to increasing risks of violence, particularly domestic violence, against women. The UN recently pointed to reports from countries around the world, which suggest that restrictions in movement, social isolation, coupled with increased social and economic pressures, are leading to an increase in violence in the home. School closures further worsen this burden, and place more stress on women. The disruption of their livelihoods and their ability to earn a living – especially for those women who are informal wage workers – will decrease access to basic needs and services. This situation increases stress on families with the potential to intensify conflict and violence. Mrs. Aliya Ali has not only been vocal but has also been reaching out to many of the victims’ homes and rendering assistance.
Over the years, the UN has been pushing countries towards implementing proactive measures to combat domestic violence. These measures have included criminalizing gender-based violence; holding massive public awareness campaigns; providing training to equip both men and women to act as first responders; and supporting victims of the scourge at the community level. Importantly, too, the lackadaisical attitude of neighbours, relatives, and community leaders who are, in most cases, aware of domestic abuse cases, but choose to remain silent also needs to change. Everyone needs to be proactive in their response to the scourge. All stakeholders in society are urged to reconvene a stakeholders’ engagement to tackle the issue of domestic violence. The aim should be to reassess and modify current strategies taking into account the lessons learnt from past experience. There is a need to pool all efforts and resources together to save our women and this should include government agencies, employers, private organizations, society and citizens. But the biggest hurdle remains, rethinking, reexamining, reshaping, remodelling and reinterpreting this culture of assumed possessiveness and dictatorship which unfortunately, leads to trepidation and the overwhelming apprehensive and fearful repercussions. All should help First Lady, Aliya Ali, to completely eradicate this disgusting sickness in society that is so dreadfully cumbersome and menacingly distasteful.
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