Region 9 Councillors benefit from sensitisation workshop

Close to 30 Councillors of Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) benefited from a sensitisation workshop hosted by the Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Ministry in collaboration with the Social Protection Ministry’s Labour Department.

The Councillors with officials from the Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Ministry after the workshop

The two-day workshop addressed the Sexual Abuse and Sexual Offences Act, Domestic Violence Act and the Human Trafficking and the Counter Trafficking in Persons Act among other labour-related issues.
The villages that participated were drawn from Central and South-Central Rupununi and the workshop was held in St Ignatius. The Ministry’s team was led by Senior Social Worker Pauline Welch and Welfare Officer Onika Bishop.
This collaboration seeks to inform Village Councils of their rights and responsibilities under the Sexual Offences Act, the Domestic Violence Act, the Labour Act and the Combating Trafficking in Persons Act.
It has been noted that when social issues arise, persons in the communities are sometimes unaware of the procedures that should be followed; therefore, leaving them vulnerable in the process, thus the need for sensitisation.
The villages were asked to select two persons who are community oriented to receive training so they can return with a reservoir of knowledge to be shared with residents of the respective villages.
Welch said, “Coming out from this important exercise, persons were able to have a better understanding of critical aspects of the labour, sexual offences, domestic violence and trafficking in persons acts. Misconceptions were clarified as it relates to the roles of law enforcement officers and the various agencies involved in addressing these issues.”
She also noted that “participants pointed out the need for additional human resources to assist in addressing these issues, while there must be a more concerted effort by those in authority to prosecute perpetrators”.
Participants welcomed this initiative and requested future training in parenting skills, while a request was also made to the Social Protection Ministry to establish a labour office in the Region.
Statistics on trafficking in persons indicate that more Indigenous persons are susceptible to trafficking, sexual and labour exploitation. To bring awareness, similar initiatives are being held countrywide by the Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons (which includes several governmental and non-governmental agencies) to bring awareness to this scourge.
The Ministry has also recognised the need for villages to become more aware of society’s social ills and the approach needed to adequately address them. It is in the process of planning a similar session for Aishalton Village, Deep South Rupununi in early August, while similar interventions will be made in Annai and Karasabai later in the year.