What the people on the Essequibo Coast say about…Domestic violence and whether enough is being done

Interviews and photos by Kenesha Fraser

As the scourge of domestic violence (DV) continues throughout Guyana, this week, we asked men and women along the Essequibo Coast whether they felt enough was being done to help victims of DV and whether they knew where they could send victims for assistance. Their comments follow:

 

Linford Jack
Linford Jack
Keenasha Seuchand
Keenasha Seuchand

Linford Jack, self-employed – ‘It is true that we have a lot of women dying as a result of domestic violence. I think women and men need to be educated some more on domestic violence because when you’re educated on a topic, you will be better able to relate to it and your behaviour and attitude towards the topic will change. Many women are suffering because of the choices they make. They believe they must stay with the man because he is the sole breadwinner. In today’s world, people are afraid to get involved in the affairs of others. I don’t believe enough is being done for victims. I would send victims to Help and Shelter or to a counsellor to seek help before it gets worse.’

Keenasha Seuchand, sales representative – ‘I don’t think enough is being done to help victims of domestic violence. It should be noted that not only women are victims but men and children too. Persons are not taking domestic violence seriously and I think that the authorities should be stricter about this issue. Victims should also be brave enough to come forward and report such acts of domestic violence. Persons are scared to do so and that results in death and its till after that, you start hearing about domestic violence in the home. If someone came to me personally and told me that they are being abused, I would send them to the nearest police station so they can make a report.’

Haiman Beharry, accountant – ‘Enough is not being done to help victims of domestic violence because at a first glance, our country does not have the facilities to cater to the needs of victims. The country may have some facilities but they are not of the highest standards in order to render efficient help to victims. I would send victims to Help and Shelter. Maybe they are therapists or counsellors there who can help the situation.’

Shizelle Joseph, UG student – ‘Though there is a law that prohibits domestic violence, we, the Guyanese public, have seen enough to believe that the law is not adequately enforced, that is in the cases where victims are not speaking up or seeking protection because of fear of the perpetrator. Mea-sures should be in place to have them protected and helped so as to prevent homicide. Since there is a law against domestic violence, if someone indicates to me that he or she is a victim I would send him or her to the police. In a case where the person has limited trust in the police, I would suggest a social worker or someone who is trained and experienced that can help the victim to seek protection. Personal-ly, it is preferable to accompany a victim as they seek help.’

Shizelle Joseph
Shizelle Joseph

Juanita Harris, trainee teacher – ‘No I don’t think enough is being done to help victims of domestic violence in Guyana. We need to be educated because many women think that domestic violence is the physical act. Nevertheless it is also

Haiman Beharry
Haiman Beharry

associated with economic, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse. Every day women are being abused and are not aware because their partner did not hit them. The law enforcement officers need to be trained on how to handle cases properly even though the victim may beg to set the abuser free. We need more support for victims to get help. I always advise victims to seek help. It’s up to them to go and get assistance from a social worker. It’s not easy but they have to be the driving force.’

Ahide Pearson, trainee teacher – ‘Well for me, there is some amount of help that is being offered to those women or men who are being abused. I think victims will always feel insecure and will have a hard time to adjust to everyday things in life. Imagine those abusers who sneak up behind the victims and threaten to or kill them. That is very scary but however, I would encourage either the man or woman to go and get help from some resourceful person before things get worse. What if the victim doesn’t want to go for help because they are afraid of threats being made? How about a woman who has six children with an abusive man and she can’t leave because the man is the only breadwinner? Would the responsible authorities really help in these situations? Domestic violence is a terrible thing.’

Sallylicia Glasgow, trainee teacher – ‘The government is trying their best in helping victims of domestic violence and I must applaud them for that. The reason women are dying at the hands of domestic violence is the result of them not reporting it and being afraid to leave the abuser. Many times you hear of a story that goes like “Man kills wife”, a killing that stemmed from years of abuse whether physical, emotional or verbal. Women too many times see the signs of domestic violence at its earliest stage but ignore it. The government had many times advocated the signs and ways or places you could go and seek help. They have also set up programmes where victims who were abused could receive monetary and emotional help especially if their children are involved. There is no excuse women could make for not leaving an abusive spouse. Some say they love their partners and there is hope in changing them but a man who loves you would never want to harm you and trust me he will never change. If I know of someone who is a victim, I would send them to the relevant authorities such as Help and

Ahide Pearson
Ahide Pearson

Shelter, the Ministry of Home Affairs or the police. Finally, my advice to victims is to get help. Tell someone and if that person does not believe you, tell someone else who you know would listen to you. Do not be afraid to speak out or one day it may be too late.’

Akesha Shamsudeen, student – ‘I agree that women in Guyana are dying as a result of domestic violence. Over the years domestic violence has escalated in Guyana and most of these victims are women. Almost every day I open the

Juanita Harris
Juanita Harris

newspaper I see women being abused, murdered or committing suicide because of domestic violence. Victims of domestic violence need our help. Yes, there are serious penalties for the perpetrators of the act but there is also too much silence that prevails in neighbourhoods and families when they know of someone who is being abused. Persons need to speak out because these victims need our love and support so that they too would get the courage to speak up about what is happening to them. If someone came to me and said that they are being abused, I would advise them to make a report to the police or go to an organisation that can help them for example, Help and Shelter because domestic violence leads to death.’

Lana Jacobus, teacher – ‘No. I do not think that enough is being done for victims of domestic violence. To prevent domestic violence, harsher penalties should be imposed to protect women. Women should also be educated about domestic violence and counselled so that they could recognise when they are in the situation and more institutions should be set up to provide help. If a victim of domestic violence came to me, I would send them to Help and Shelter or Red Thread because these are the institutions that were formed to help victims of abuse.’

Kenford Fraser, UG student – ‘That’s a very interesting topic, one that I care a lot about. I hate to see people being taken advantage of. I am tired of reading stories in the newspapers that tell of women being brutalised by their spouses who are supposed to be protecting them. No, I don’t think enough is being done in Guyana to combat domestic violence. Yes, I have seen many changes over the years in terms of awareness and outreach programmes but that’s about it. Talk, talk and more talk. We need to be more proactive. The womenfolk need more help in terms of counselling and

Sallylicia Glasgow
Sallylicia Glasgow

not just the women, I think the perpetrators of these crimes need counselling too. It doesn’t make sense for you to focus on the victims or potential victims and ignore the perpetrators. Both parties need help. In terms of knowing where to send someone if they came to me for help, I heard that the Ministry of Human Services is responsible for providing help to victims of domestic violence. So maybe I might direct them there.’

Akesha Shamsudeen
Akesha Shamsudeen
Lana Jacobus
Lana Jacobus
Kenford Fraser
Kenford Fraser

 

 

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