Women and Children’s rights in Guyana: Rhetoric and reality

By Wintress White and Joy Marcus

Protecting the rights of women and children is always an important obligation of any government. In Guyana, violence against women and children has been a serious problem for many years. In addition, women’s equality overall remains lacking; there are still strong cultural and religious traditions in Guyanese society that promote male domination over women and prevent women and girls from fully enjoying their human rights. In this context, the government has a responsibility to play a leadership role in terms of re-shaping harmful societal attitudes, promoting gender equity, and protecting women and children. This obligation however, remains largely unmet.

The current government of Guyana – like the previous one – has several female Ministers and does claim a commitment to women’s rights; however, the reality for women and children on the ground remains largely unchanged. Laws on the books and lip service to empowerment and equity aside – Guyanese women and children remain extremely vulnerable and disadvantaged, compared to their male counterparts. Specifically, serious flaws in the judicial system remain – although women currently hold the top positions of the Guyanese judiciary. Sexual violence matters remain under-reported, inadequately investigated, and conviction rates woefully low…..