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Alluding to the theme ‘Not a Minute More’, she said it is the occasion, as well, to acknowledge the critical role of global partnerships between governments, the United Nations (UN) system, women’s networks, civil society and the private sector to address the issue.
In a special message, Shadick said it is also a chance to remind the international community that its commitment and action to end gender-based violence must be intensified to meet future challenges.
She continued:” In Guyana, the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, as part of its continuing efforts to eliminate gender-based violence, recently conducted a training programme for 72 male and female community volunteers, in Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam), in collaboration with UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund).
“These volunteers have been exposed to training in intervention skills, especially in the area of violence among other things. Their presence is already beginning to have a positive effect in their communities.
“The Domestic Violence Act of 1996 continues to be in focus and work is continuing to ensure the application of the Act among members of the Police Force and Judiciary. Activities also continue to promote, among the general public, awareness or rights, under the Act.”
Shadick said global statistics show that one-fifth of all women are subjected to acts of violence by their male partners and the helplessness, fear of public shame and anger experienced by those women and children continue, in large part, are kept as closely guarded secrets hidden from the public.
According to her:” Child abuse, especially in the home, is an area of great concern and women and children fleeing from violence are rendered homeless.
“The girl child is of significant concern to the nation and the fact that girls are reaching puberty at an earlier age suggests that we need to plan programmes targeting the girl child.”
Minister Shadick said violence against women and girls affects everyone in the community, including men and boys.
“Harmful attitudes and beliefs are an important part of the problem. Helping men and boys to alter such beliefs, which foster violent acts will help to create communities which are safer for women and girls.
“Men can play a significant role. In their everyday lives, they can be positive role models for boys, young men and other men, by showing that violence and aggression are not acceptable behaviour for men and boys. Men can make a difference in the many roles they play as father, boss, teacher, sportsman or community leader.”
Shadick said one domestic violence consultant reported that women hit, bite, kick, push and even shoot their male intimate partners, but it is not the same domestic violence for which the overwhelming majority of men get arrested.
The expert said physical abuse is not as lethal or injurious in most cases and the motivation is usually self-defence, retaliation, protection of children, escape and the like. It is rarely instrumental violence designed to control, isolate, intimidate and humiliate a partner.
“So,” the Minister said, “even though we are aware of some instances of female violence, these should not be confused with intimate partner male violence and to blur the distinction risks undermining efforts to hold domestic violence perpetrators accountable and protect their victims.
“We, therefore, ask the men of Guyana to speak out if your friends, colleagues or mates brag about using physical force against women; to challenge harmful attitudes and beliefs which foster violence; to get involved in community groups and support groups which organise activities aimed at eliminating violence against women and girls and, wherever possible, start up your own men's groups to help end violence against women and girls in Guyana.
“It is time to say loudly and clearly ‘not a minute more’. Men and women wake up and work together to stop the violence now,” Shadick said.
Giving a history of the observance, she said the origin of November 25 goes back to the 1960s when the three Mirabai sisters from the Dominican Republic were violently assassinated for their political activism.
The sisters, known as the “uncomfortable butterflies” became a symbol of the crisis of violence against women in Latin America.
November 25 was chosen to commemorate their lives and promote global recognition of gender violence and has been observed in Latin America since the 1980s.
In 1993, the UN General Assembly resolved that "Violence against women constitutes a violation of the rights and freedoms against women... that there is a need for a clear statement of the rights to be applied to ensure the elimination of all violence against women... and a commitment by the international community at large to the elimination of violence against women."
In December 1999, at its 54th session, the General Assembly declared November 25 ‘International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women’.