Skeldon men, boys sign declaration to halt violence against women, girls

Men and boys of Skeldon are the first to embrace an initiative aimed at ending the abuse of women and children countrywide with the signing of the Skeldon Declaration being piloted by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security.

The declaration seeks to encourage men and boys 14 years old and over across Guyana, individually and collectively, to respect and uphold the rights of women and children. The declaration was signed at GuySuCo’s Skeldon Sugar Estate.

According to a release from the ministry, the charge was led by Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud, who reminded those participating in the signing of the declaration, under the theme, ‘No More Black and Blue’, that committing to a non-violent relationship did not make them less of a man.

“I want to say to you today, especially our young men that we do not need to use violence to make known or register or presence or our role in our homes or community. It does not make us less of a man if we are respectful and caring of our women and our girl children. It does not make us less of a man if we talk more, if we discuss more and if as today we seek to do, declare that we will not inflict any form of violence on our woman folk and girl children,” Persaud was quoted as saying.

Foremost in upholding these rights is the commitment from men and boys to refrain from behaviour that results in verbal, physical or sexual abuse of women and children.

The concept is part of a broader plan being implemented by the ministry through the newly established Men’s Affairs Bureau (MAB) in collaboration with the Men Empowerment Network (MEN), with funding and support from UNICEF. The plan aims to reduce the incidence of domestic violence in general and violence against women and children in particular. The long-term plan will see extensive engagement with victims of abuse as well as abusers, and is being supported at the community level by various religious and non-governmental organisations.

Commenting on the decision to launch the campaign at Skeldon, Minister Persaud said, “As a male Berbician I am also concerned because if you look at the national statistics, you’ll see a greater percentage of increase in terms of reported cases of domestic violence occurring right here in this great county… It is not about stigmatizing the men here in Berbice or any particular group. It is not about condemning men. Rather, it is about inspiring and encouraging the men here in Berbice to show that they are man enough to do something about the social problem.”

The signatories of the declaration received a pocket-size Pledge Card which they will be able to keep in their possession as a reminder of their commitment to bring about change in their homes and communities.

Also delivering remarks at yesterday’s event were Chairman of MEN Rev Kwame Gilbert; Head of MAB Patrick Findlay and Region Six Chairman Zulfikar Mustapha. It is expected that this activity will be taken to several communities across the country over the next 12 months.

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