Nov 26, 2022 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Yesterday was the International Day for the elimination of violence against women. Whatever our contexts, or our male-centric visions, violence against women must always rank as the unthinkable, the unacceptable, and the unpardonable. It must be an outlook on relationships, of life itself, that violence against women has no place at all in our lives, and to such an extent that it is not just a day observed, but an individual culture practised with discipline, care, and respect.
Violence against women in Guyana is a problem; some may argue more that it has mushroomed into a national source of shame. This is the 21st century, when those crude pictures of a Stone Age male armed with a club in one hand dragging a helpless female by the hair should be circumstances of the distant past, with no place for that kind of mentality in Guyana. Yet, there is horror and sorrow that some of that is still harboured here by too many men, some younger, still maturing males.
All too often, the media is lit up with the harrowing episodes of violence against women in this country, and the gruesome outcomes that seem inevitable. Women activists have worked tirelessly in advocating for battered women. Successive governments have committed resources and energies to assist survivors, to warn the naïve and trusting, not to take their lives in their hands by being casual about abuse and abusers. Religious groups and their leaders have spoken out in condemnation of violence against women, and educate the men in their houses of worship not to resort to such heinous practices that shatter confidence, trust, and oftentimes lives. In addition, well-intended males have joined in the call and struggle for a better environment, especially the domestic, for our women to live in, share with, and enjoy with peace and dignity.
Sadly, the combined efforts of all the best minds, the ongoing efforts, seem to fall on deaf ears, and resistant minds. Whenever there is an extended lull in reports of violence against women in Guyana, there would be a flare up of incidents that leave many wondering what progress has been made, if any, and what else has to be done to stem the tide of violence that can be red hot with anger, and redder in the blood that flows.
The Guyana Police Force has trained its people to exercise the proper care when victims come forward to report instances of domestic violence. The Ministry of Human Services and Social Protection has rolled out one programme after another, which women can access and seek assistance. There are hotlines and help-lines, videos and a range of education efforts and awareness programmes, which are provided to offer ongoing help, either on a preemptive basis, or as situations arise, so that the women in Guyana can be equipped to take the necessary steps to safeguard themselves.
We think that some of this has registered, and more and more women are taking to heart what is offered. One wonders how far behind we would have been in the fight against the scourge of violence against women, if it were not for the constructive developments from a variety of sources, some official, many others private and of a volunteering type. The good news is that the statistics appear to indicate a decline in the reports of violence that comes to light. Still, there must be the discernment that many women, too many of them, continue to suffer in silence and shame, and permit abusers (using a range of different weapons) to inflict great harms on them and their families.
Our young boys and young girls must be educated and informed of what we live with, and that it doesn’t have to be this way for them. Our older, mature females must also come to grips with the likely fatal dangers that await, when they are more concerned about cultural stigma, and pleasing family elders, maintaining family traditions.
It is time for the violence against women to cease. But all must recognize that the journey has now begun, and that the road ahead is long. The violence against women must stop. There is much work to be done, and it involves everybody.
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