Stemming the tide of violence

Guyana Chronicle
March 1, 2000

IT DID not get as much attention as it should have been given - probably because of all the hype that was on about the Republic anniversary (Mashramani) celebrations and the visit of the Prince of Wales last week.

But the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security is keeping on a course of confronting and dealing with a mounting problem - violence against women.

Prince Charles got an insight of that and related problems when he visited with members of the Help and Shelter group in Georgetown, an agency associated with the ministry's programme to help stem the tide of violence against women and children and domestic abuse.

The ministry last week met interested parties in Georgetown on the setting up of a national committee to eliminate violence against women. This was its first step towards the establishment of a national committee since Human Services Minister, Mrs Indra Chandarpal announced her intentions last year to do something more tangible to eliminate violence against women.

We welcome the announcement at the forum that the steering committee is expected to come up with programmes that would help ease violence against women.

Firm indications that this was not just another intellectual exercise came in the programme outlined and with the news that those involved will get more than just thanks for their efforts.

Mrs Chandarpal wants the steering committee to come up with a national programme for the prevention and reduction of family violence. She said a document has been prepared and discussions are taking place with various agencies to seek funding.

Indications are that it will be supported, she said.

It was reported that the programme is due to run for three years and it involves all those who work in fields involving women and children.

According to Mrs Chandarpal, measures have already been implemented towards eliminating violence against women but there is need for a national coordinated strategy to include all the players.

This is as it should be because greater public awareness would help to bring this problem more into the open and destroy the myth among so many, particularly in rural areas, that beating and ill-treating a woman is her due.

Far too many women in this country - and in many other Third World societies - have been brought up to believe that being thumped around by their men folk is to be accepted without complaint and they often suffer their abuse silently.

Spreading the true gospel along the lines the ministry has been forging will do much to dispel this fallacy.

Violence against women cannot be tolerated in a modern society where they are more and more showing their worth in almost all sectors.

Minister Chandarpal, long a key player in the Women's Progressive Organisation (WPO) arm of the People's Progressive Party, has the credentials to guide the battle. The WPO has an excellent track record of speaking out for the rights of women and she can be expected to be unyielding on this front.

To her credit, Mrs Chandarpal said programmes on domestic violence against men will also be promoted.

"We need to, in conjunction with the Commission on the Family, do all we can in order to start addressing this problem," she appealed last week.

She and her ministry are certainly setting the pace.