Violence against women has been a growing disease in Guyana. It has become virulent to the extent that if this spate continues, I believe women will be extinct in Guyana.
What can be done?
Firstly: Tougher laws and strict enforcement of the laws, and all domestic violence (DV) and abuse against women must be prosecuted. Many women in Guyana have in some way or fashion faced emotional, physical and mental abuse from their spouses or significant others. The perpetrators of domestic violence must receive severe penalties such as jail time and community service even if the woman refuses to press charges.
Secondly, there has to be more awareness and dialogue with civil society. Educate women on how to recognise abuse and respond to abuses. Many women have acquiesced in the notion of abuse because they are powerless and ignorant of what constitutes DV, and the real protection available for those willing to report DV.
Thirdly: There must be government-funded secure safe havens for women who report abuse because they legitimately fear for their lives.
Fourthly: There has to be more women-focused organizations to help educate and bring awareness to this issue. Reverse power to women. These community-based organizations should be fully baseline funded through the national budget each year.
Fifthly: There has to be a study done to evaluate the relationship between alcoholism and DV. Poor economic conditions and lack of employment and discriminatory employment for women must be revisited and they should be protected through legislation. They are all directly or indirectly related to abuse.
Lastly: We must recognise legally the rights and dignity of all women from the President right down to the fisherman. If we don’t this disease will become a plague in generations to come, because a large portion of childhood development comes from learned behaviour. “Children subjected to poverty, violence, or neglect during these early years without a supportive network of adults can end up with faulty ‘wiring’ that has long-term consequences well into adulthood.” – National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, Harvard University.