Whew! What a week this has been. First we find out Simona Broomes, President of the Guyana Women Miners Organisation (GWMO), finally gets the recognition that she and her group deserve from the US Secretary of State for being heroes in demonstrating the courage and willingness to save women from being trafficked in Guyana.
The well-deserved tribute begs the question as to why this recognition was not first bestowed on Ms. Broomes by her own government. Perhaps the second bit of news this week answers that question. The Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report for 2013 says there is still not enough being done by the Guyana Government to effectively tackle Trafficking in Persons.
Instead of treating Ms Broomes and her organisation like the heroes they are and being big enough to ask for help from a group that is obviously getting the job done, the government wanted to downplay the last dramatic rescue by the GWMO. In fact, according to a Stabroek News article from this week, it seems even up to now the “…Guyana Police Force had not issued wanted bulletins for the couple accused of trafficking four girls in the Puruni Backdam.”
Also this week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released the first global systematic review of scientific data on the prevalence of two forms of violence against women: violence by an intimate partner (intimate partner violence) and sexual violence by someone other than a partner (non-partner sexual violence).
The online webpage stated, “The report details the effects of partner and non-partner sexual violence on several aspects of women’s health. It shows that women who have experienced intimate partner violence have higher rates of depression, HIV, injury and death, and are more likely to have low birth weight babies, than those who haven’t. Though research on the health effects of non-partner sexual violence is more limited, the evidence clearly shows that sexual violence has both long- and short-term debilitating effects on women’s mental health and well-being.”
Most significantly, this scientific report confirmed what we already knew from a previous UN report – one in three women throughout the world will experience physical and/or sexual violence by a partner or sexual violence by a non-partner. This number is staggering. And it is sickening. Violence against women worldwide is at epidemic proportions.
This week we also read in a Sunday New York Daily article about an 18-year-old Papua New Guinea girl who used a cutlass to slice off her father’s head after he repeatedly raped her on last Tuesday night and tried again the following morning. The knee-jerk response from many women was “good for her”. Even the local law enforcement officers refused to charge her.
Sadly, when justice is not served for victims of rape or violence, there comes a time when they choose to take it upon themselves to find justice. When governments downplay the depth of these problems and when law enforcement does not take violence against women seriously, vigilante justice is often the result. One in three women worldwide! Why is this not being considered the crisis health problem that it is by local officials?
All of this dramatic news comes amid even more local reports of violence against women and law enforcement impotence. Speaking of violence against women, on Father’s Day, after wreaking havoc in the house by breaking the windows and other kitchen stuff, a 40-year-old East La Penitence mason is also accused of threatening to burn down his wife’s house and to break her neck.
And speaking of law enforcement impotence, according to a Stabroek News report on June 18, “Almost a month after a 14-year-old Sophia girl was brutally raped by a well-known mini-bus conductor police are yet to arrest the alleged perpetrator and her parents have become very frustrated and are accusing the police of foot dragging.”
Let us not forget about the Plaisance woman who died in a house fire in which foul play is suspected. And there is the young mother and baby girl who both died during delivery at Georgetown Hospital. The husband has claimed negligence by medical personnel and the obstetrician who was on duty at the time has been sent on administrative leave.
Even worse are the reports about the savage beating of Roxanne Farias, of St Ignatius, Region 9, allegedly by a policeman stationed in the area. Is this the Ministry of Home Affairs idea of “sweeping reform”?
With violence against women so prevalent and with all of the constant government and law enforcement failures to protect women, it seems that it would be a good idea to recognise a hero when one emerges. Give the hero her due. Give her the hero’s welcome home she deserves.
It’s time to put aside the petty politics that deem others who do good for the nation as trying to embarrass the government. If the government does not want to be embarrassed, it should be the one protecting the women instead of waiting for others to step up and do its job. And, at the very least, recognise and work with those who are actually getting the job done.
Does the government think the people will just sit by while the nation’s women are raped, beaten and murdered? No, they will not. Women – and the men who love them – are rising up on their own to stop this epidemic of violence and if the government does not act swiftly, it will continue to appear inept on the international stage.
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