Dear Editor,

Over the past few weeks, the headlines in the local daily newspapers have highlighted the plight of women and girls who are the victims of sexual crimes.

Sexual violence against females is nothing new, but we must admit that the prevalence of this new wave of sex crimes shocks our consciences. It appears as though the moral fabric in our society has decayed to such an extent that normal decency has been replaced by lust and sexual greed which renders even the children and mothers of abusers victims.

I have read Minister Priya Manickchand’s comments in SN of February 17, where she commented that violence against women in Guyana has increased. This observation is justified, but the question is what can be done to curb this unwarranted phenomenon? The Minister also correctly stated that action could only be taken to help these women if they reported their situation to the relevant authorities. So here the big problem of women not wanting to come forward is identified, but the obvious question is why? Why are these innocent victims reluctant to report their situation to the police or the Ministry of Human and Social Services? We can speculate all we want about the reasons these victims are not coming forth, and some of our answers might, in fact be part of the reasons, but the true solution lies in scientific research, where empirical data are gathered on the basis of which suitable recommendations can be advanced.

So my advice to the Minister is to let’s get serious about addressing this problem of domestic violence and sexual abuse of our women and girls and launch an investigation into the issue. There is no need to look outside of Guyana for researchers and skilled personnel to undertake this challenge, since the University of Guyana, I believe, is capable of providing the kind of skilled human capital we need to execute same. Every year the Social Sciences Faculty turns out a number of well trained, and qualified persons who can readily be recruited to undertake such an assignment.

Or, maybe an inter-agency approach can be developed, whereby the Ministry of Human and Social Services collaborates with the University of Guyana to investigate this dangerous, and disgusting phenomenon. It is time we called all the relevant professionals to sit around the table and craft an agenda to decide the most realistic and logical approach to deal with this problem. This is an issue which requires us to develop a genuine non-partisan stand to protect the females in our society.

The situation can get no worse, for when a man can rape his own mother and a father can rape his own daughter it is time for drastic, collective action.

Yours faithfully,
Lurlene Nestor

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