IN view of the most recent cases of women being murdered by their partners, Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, and Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Vindyha Persaud, recently took to their social media platforms to call on women and society, to be more proactive in eradicating domestic abuse and violence against women.
Since 2019 it was revealed in a UNDP study that more than one in three Guyanese women experienced intimate-partner violence (IPV) and some 20 per cent of women in Guyana have experienced non-partner sexual abuse (NPSV) in their lifetimes.
In recent days, two women were killed at the hands of their partners. On Saturday, 43-year-old Nicola Wilson was stabbed to death by her partner who later committed suicide, while on Friday, the body of 20-year-old Shonnette Dover was discovered in a shallow grave after it was revealed that she was allegedly shot dead by her boyfriend before he buried her in his backyard.
In her post, Minister Manickchand pleaded with women to get out of abusive relationships and not wait in the hope that things would get better.
“If you are in an abusive relationship you need to get help to get out. They can and often do escalate and become fatal. In any event, living in fear, worry, under control, is not living,” Manickchand declared.
She added: “If you had asked Nicola the day before he knifed her to death, whether he would kill her, her answer most likely would have been something along the line of ‘he does want knock, knock meh but he won’t kill me.’ If you were to ask Shonette whether her partner would do that, up to the day before he did, she most likely would have told you ‘nah man’.”
Reminding women that they deserve to “live a beautiful life,” Manickchand highlighted that unless an abusive partner commits to getting “serious mental health interventions,” he “will not change,” no matter what a woman does to try to please him.
“You can’t love him hard enough. You can’t serve him hard enough. You can’t behave hard enough. Him beating, cursing, belittling you has nothing to do with you and your behaviour. It is about him and what is in his head. And unless that changes you can become Nicola and Shonnette. So get help and leave. Please,” she said.
Minister Persaud in her plea reminded women that “each of their lives is priceless” and she called on men to refrain from preventing women from leaving a relationship when they want to, and to stop abusing women.
“The continuing horrific murder of women in Guyana by their husbands and partners needs to stop. If there is an argument, do not use your fists or weapons or words to harm or kill. She is not your property to be used and abused. Her life matters to all of us in this country,” Persaud underscored.
She reminded that children also carry the scars when they grow up in such situations where domestic abuse is prevalent in homes. She called on persons to continue to utilise the ministry’s 914 Domestic Violence hotline number, and noted that her ministry is ready and willing to help wherever necessary.
“If it’s your family member or friend, call, report or encourage them to call 914. We are ready to help with shelter or whatever is needed to get them out of the abuse that turns deadly quickly,” she added.
She also noted that her ministry continues to also work along with the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to improve systems they use to handle reports of domestic violence.
“The law has the provision for harsher penalties and must be used as it was intended to stop this violence. When women and girls continue to be murdered, the entire country is in pain,” she said.
She noted that her ministry will continue to work to improve its systems until the scourge of domestic violence is completely eradicated.
“Join me and help us to stop this senseless slaughter of our women by their significant others, report it, encourage them to leave and get to safety and call 914. No system is perfect, but we must keep on trying and working together until we save each life. This fight requires all the people, the law and all the agencies to work together,” she said.
She ended by offering condolences to the family of the two women who were recently murdered.