The Ministry of Human Services and Social Security through its Domestic Violence Policy Unit has been conducting domestic violence awareness sessions and Head of the Unit, Geetangeli Geer, has said that there have been positive responses.
Over the last four months domestic violence awareness sessions have been held with hosts/hostesses of entertainment programmes, staff of the Government Information Agency, basketball players from the Pepsi Sonics Basketball team, members of Zahiff’s Gym, the Guyana Association of Scrabble Players, students of Carnegie School of Home Economics, women in Linden and members of the Guyana Girl Guides Association.
Participants have been expressing their views on how domestic violence can be tackled, and according to Geer who has been conducting the sessions they are proving successful as some participants have brought in friends and family members who experience this form of abuse, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported yesterday. And owing to these sessions it has also been found that more persons are accessing the services of the ministry.
Meanwhile, the Unit ensures that follow-ups are done on each case reported to ensure that some action is being taken and Geer noted that this is very important to track what happens to gain a better understanding of the effect of the ministry’s services.
According to Geer, follow-ups have shown that women are taking steps to help themselves after they have visited the ministry, and while these are small steps, she noted that they are still important and significant.
“A thematic area for the National Policy on Domestic Violence speaks specifically to educating the public on domestic violence… I see the results almost right away. Women are empowered and they can stand up and tell you they know someone who is experiencing domestic violence… It is really important that we empower men, women and children so that they can know their rights and make reports,” Geer is quoted as saying.
The general perception, GINA said, is that women who suffer from this crime may be hesitant to report it, thinking that their partners would change. However, Geer is urging them to report it to the relevant authorities since it will be on record and can be presented in a court of law.
She noted that the Unit also does follow-ups on reports that are made and if there is inaction with regard to a case or a law enforcement agency these cases are listened to very carefully and persons are asked to supply evidence.
The Unit plans to continue with a series of awareness sessions going into the regions, particularly in Berbice and Essequibo.
GINA added that the ministry has two main arms that deal with domestic violence issues – the Unit and the Women’s Affairs Bureau. In addition, persons are encouraged to seek assistance from Help & Shelter which has been advocating for the rights of women.