‘Don’t beat women’

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo addressing police recruits at a men’s forum held as part of the Ministry of Social Protection’s 16 days of Activism Campaign against Gender-based Violence (Adrian Narine photo)

-PM urges multi-faceted approach to tackle gender-based violence

AS the Ministry of Social Protection observes its 16 days of Activism Campaign against Gender-based Violence, Prime Minister and First Vice- President, Moses Nagamootoo has called for young men everywhere to desist from abusing women and children.

Speaking at a forum hosted for members of the disciplined forces and other young men at the Police Officers’ Training Centre on Wednesday evening, the prime minister acknowledged the scourge of violence against women and girls, in Guyana. Cognisant of this, he said that a multi-faceted approach geared at tackling gender-based violence (GBV) is being rolled out by the government. “Guyana cannot and must not be counted among those countries where there is pervasive abuse of women and mindless violence inflicted on them,” he told the forum.

“Among the men are the good the bad and the ugly…but I would hope that the bad men make the effort to change. If we could do so, then there will be hope to eliminate the scourge of violence against women and girls.”

Speaking to the men gathered, the prime minister urged them to support the culture of equality in all spheres of life and to put an end to the “eye-pass” against women because of misperceptions about their economic and social status. The prime minister noted that gender equality has been foremost in the 20-30 Sustainable Development Goals and that the Ministry of Social Protection has involved all stakeholders in the call to action. “I stand here today as prime minister, as a man as a husband, father and grandfather and appeal to all men to respect our women,” he emphasised.

In his presentation, Prime Minister Nagamootoo referred to the laws that protect victims of gender-based violence and the laws that protect victims and punish perpetrators. The Sexual Offences Act provides for the operationalisation of a national task force for the prevention of sexual violence, which came to fruition in 2016. In this year too, the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Policy Unit was established. In 2017, the Sexual Offences Court was only launched earlier in November.

Adding to these efforts, the prime minister related that plans are in train for a dedicated domestic violence court, while the Domestic Violence Policy is being revised and the National Action Plan for Sexual Domestic Violence is being “concretised.”

Speaking more on this National Action Plan, he related that it will be implemented in all regions and will foster governmental and non-governmental stakeholder engagements. In addition, through this plan, training will be provided to all stakeholders dealing with this matter and the general public. According to the prime minister, “Guyana is therefore rolling out the multi-faceted approach to combat gender-based violence, mainly violence against women.”

The Director of the University of Guyana (UG) Office of Strategic Initiatives, Dr. Fitzgerald Yaw, posited that everyone has a role to play in the matter of GBV. He took a step further than the prime minister and acknowledged that while GBV is more prevalent among women and children, men are also affected. He noted, “What makes it [GBV] a bigger challenge is that we are socialised to accommodate a culture of violence.”
A Senior Gender Specialist at the Ministry of Social Protection echoed similar sentiments and related that the ministry is trying to stamp out this issue, but it begins with acknowledging that GBV does take place.