WPO ob­serves ‘16 Days of Ac­tivism Against Gen­der-Based Vi­o­lence’ cam­paign

Weekend Mirror - - EDITORIAL -

The

Women’s Pro­gres­sive Or­ga­ni­za­tion ( WPO) joins Guyana and the rest of the world in ob­ser­vance of the ‘16 Days of Ac­tivism Against Gen­der-Based Vi­o­lence’ cam­paign to chal­lenge vi­o­lence against women and girls. The cam­paign runs from 25 Novem­ber, the In­ter­na­tional Day for the Elim­i­na­tion of Vi­o­lence against Women, to 10 De­cem­ber, Hu­man Rights Day. The theme for this year is “Leave No One Be­hind: End Vi­o­lence against Women and Girls”.

As we com­mence this im­por­tant cam­paign, we pay homage to the three Mirabel sis­ters of Gu­atemala who were mur­dered by the Tru­jillo regime on the 25 Novem­ber, 1960. We take this op­por­tu­nity to salute the women of Gu­atemala who were re­lent­less in their cam­paign in­ter­na­tion­ally to ex­pose the tyranny of the govern­ment and the murder of the three sis­ters who be­came the cat­a­lyst for change. They were not only seen as a sym­bol of re­sis­tance, but also cham­pi­ons of free­dom and jus­tice. Their sac­ri­fice was not in vain since the United Na­tions (UN) has of­fi­cially rec­og­nized this day.

The theme to end vi­o­lence against women is be­com­ing a top pri­or­ity is­sue since sta­tis­tics by the UN Women have re­vealed that 35% of women in the world have ex­pe­ri­enced phys­i­cal and/or sex­ual vi­o­lence by a non-part­ner at some point in their lives. Some na­tional stud­ies show that 70% of women have ex­pe­ri­enced phys­i­cal and/or sex­ual vi­o­lence from an in­ti­mate part­ner in their life­time.

In Guyana, al­though the Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Leg­is­la­tion was passed in 1996 and sup­port was given to ar­eas in­clud­ing shel­ter, coun­selling and le­gal aid, there is still a high level of vi­o­lence against women and girls oc­cur­ring. We rec­og­nize that not all cases are re­ported, but those that are in the pub­lic do­main are fright­en­ing enough.

It is un­clear whether the law which was passed is known in the var­i­ous cor­ners of the coun­try or whether the agen­cies and in­sti­tu­tions re­spon­si­ble for im­ple­ment­ing the laws are fol­low­ing the pre­scribed pro­cesses and pro­ce­dures re­quired of them? Are re­ports prop­erly doc­u­mented and are court or­ders en­forced? Do cit­i­zens have ac­cess to ser­vices such as ad­e­quate shel­ters, coun­selling and le­gal aid? These are some of the im­por­tant ar- eas which must be ad­dressed in an ef­fort to not only pro­mote aware­ness, but to also pro­vide jus­tice to those who have been vi­o­lated.

We are aware that there is poor re­port­ing by law en­forc­ing of­fi­cers, and rec­om­mend that this is­sue be ad­dressed ur­gently. If this sit­u­a­tion is not ad­dressed promptly, more cases will be thrown out for want of proper pros­e­cu­tion. We call on the rel­e­vant agen­cies to consider in­creas­ing the penal­ties for breach­ing the Pro­tec­tion Or­der. We also wish to pro­pose that vic­tims who do not wish to pur­sue pros­e­cu­tion against their per­pe­tra­tor should be both placed on a one year bond and un­dergo manda­tory coun­sel­ing from a cer­ti­fied ther­a­pist.

The WPO is of the firm view that the govern­ment should pro­vide greater lead­er­ship and sup­port to the ar­eas raised above. They should fos­ter closer col­lab­o­ra­tion with the many groups who are al­ready en­gaged in the fight­ing vi­o­lence against women and girls. The news of another woman or girl who be­comes a vic­tim is one too many. Let us all do more in help­ing to re­duce the scourge of vi­o­lence in our so­ci­ety. (WPO State­ment)

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