In a bid to improve the knowledge of how members of various communities can stop domestic violence, the Social Protection Ministry has begun training frontline operators. This was done through the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Policy Unit.
The training caters for operators from Regions One (Barima-Waini), Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) and Nine (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo). It was held at Cara Lodg
e and was facilitated by acting Chief Justice, Roxanne George-Wiltshire.
The participants hail from professions including regional health officers, community development officers (hinterland), school welfare officers and social work practitioners.
The aim of the training is to enhance their knowledge about sexual and domestic violence. In addition, the training is expected to improve their ability to respond effectively when intervening in sexual, domestic and gender-based violence cases.
According to the Deputy Permanent Secretary within the Social Protection Ministry, Adrian Ramrattan, sexual offences and domestic violence are heinous crimes that should be rooted out from society.
Hence, he informed the participants that the Social Protection Ministry wants to eliminate both of these scourges quickly. He also laid out some plans the Ministry
Ramrattan explained that the Ministry “will enhance enforcement of the international instruments we have signed onto in the quest against the twin evil. At this point, I think it is timely to remind us that Guyana does not lag behind ratifying international instruments to help combat the twin scourge of domestic and sexual violence.”
He added that the Ministry will also develop alliances with civil society agencies, and non-governmental institutions to achieve the goal of stopping domestic and sexual violence.
In addition, the Ministry plans to also enhance public programmes using social and multimedia to combat the scourge. These efforts will help to promote a safe haven for victims.
Meanwhile, Acting Chief Justice, Roxanne George-Wiltshire highlighted that the Sexual Offences Act 2010 is gender neutral. The Acting Chief Justice said the Act applies to both males and females whether the perpetrators or victims are male or female.
“Originally, sexual offences especially rape could have only been committed by a male against a female but now based on the rape definition it is much, much wider than that,” the Acting Chief Justice said.
She explained that the Sexual Offences Act repeals and replaces most of the provisions in the Criminal Law Act Chapter 8:01 that dealt with sexual offences. However, there are a number of challenges to the implementation of the Act, as well as legal issues which are open to discussion regarding the constitutionality of some provisions.
For the year, there have already been several cases of domestic violence which have ended in the deaths of the female partners.
Recently, women’s rights activist and Commissioner on the Women and Gender Equality Commission, Nicole Cole, called for the Government to take more proactive steps to prevent women from losing their lives to the scourge of domestic violence.
Only recently, 37-year-old Shenika London, was fatally stabbed at her home at Amelia’s Ward, Mackenzie, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) on May 19, 2017.
London’s youngest child is two years old and is reported to have witnessed the killing. London was the sister of popular disc jockey Akelo “DJ Akelo” Elliot.
A blood stained knife suspected to be the murder weapon was reportedly found at the scene. Her body bore multiple stab wounds. The woman’s husband, Michael London, has since admitted to committing the act.
That comes on the heels of another confession, this time from Black Bush resident Sunildatt Ballack who, in March of this year, had confessed to killing his wife, Lilwantie Ballack and dumping her body.