Red Thread’s drop-in/outreach centre for women and children who are in violent situations has being compiling reports from the two daily newspapers, Kaieteur News and Stabroek News, about incidents of abuse meted out to women and children. We decided to send in our first report for International Women’s Day 2009 but we are a little late.
This is what we found out between the period of January 1 – February 23, 2009. In just over seven weeks a total of 43 cases were reported in the newspapers – 5 murders, 12 rapes, 11 physical assaults, 3 sexual assaults, 5 cases of carnal knowledge and 5 indecent assaults. Of these cases, 22 victims were women, 20 were girls under age and one was an under age boy. What a shameful figure.
The Ministry of Human Services and Social Security has been taking steps to combat violence against women and children but the violence is increasing. What does this indicate? We think that the police have received enough training to improve their skills. We know that the courts are overloaded and further changes are needed in the implementation of the law. But for us the biggest change needed is in attitudes. We need to end tolerance for violence against women and children. The police and the courts and the media must stop looking for reasons to blame victims of violence while excusing the abusers. We must stop tolerating neighbours, police, politicians, friends, fellow lodge members who we know are guilty of violence against women and children.
The religious organizations which are so vocal against things that they consider ills should and must do a far better job in speaking out against violence against women and children.
As much as we want to call the authorities on their hypocrisy and sluggish responses, we would also want to call on ‘ordinary people’ – all of us − to recognize the threats to friends/family/neighbours and put pressure on the authorities to take these threats seriously. The Domestic Violence Act authorizes police to enter premises where a threat is perceived. It is supposed to provide an easy ‘shelter’ for the victims but it is not doing either of those.
Women and children deserve to have a life free from violence. Enough of the big declarations and forward to each of us doing what is needed for this violence to stop.
Cora Belle Roberts