The statement issued by the Minister of Human Services for International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was woefully lacking in any commitment on her part to do anything. It is horrifying how the government continues to seem to want to continue the work that was done from the passing of the Domestic Violence Act until the launch of the National Domestic Violence Policy in 2008.
Non-governmental organisations and other non-state actors are doing their part. However, when the state fails to honour its obligations, gender-based violence will continue to be a problem.
The Guyana Association of Women Lawyers has called for the implementation of the National Domestic Violence policy. Help & Shelter and the Guyana Human Rights Association have called for the implementation of the mechanisms which are required for monitoring the laws and the policies. How on earth can the Minister not know her obligations and why is she not addressing these concerns?
In a letter to the editor of Kaieteur News on August 21, 2013, the Ministry of Human Services said: “The Ministry is currently reviewing, reshaping and retooling all its efforts, and will shortly introduce new initiatives all aimed at addressing Violence within our Society.” While shortly in the Minister’s world might be years, it is sad that the Minister sees no urgency in building the institutions which would help the state to meet its obligations to the people who are affected by gender-based violence.