WPO hosts forum on violence against women

Guyana Chronicle
November 30, 2002

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WOMEN’S Progressive Organisation (WPO) hosted a seminar Saturday ahead of the Sunday observance of ‘International Day for the elimination of Violence Against Women’.

The public forum, at the Freedom House, Georgetown headquarters of its parent organisation, People's Progressive Party (PPP), heard three speakers who shared their views on related topics.

Dr Michelle Strongfield, of International School of Medicine, talked about the physical and physiological effects of violence, which can be emotional or sexual, too.

She said the leading cause of deaths and injury to women around the world is domestic violence and, in the long term, leads to the emotional breakdown of battered women.

Strongfield said economical abuse is also prevalent and prevents women from keeping jobs, causing them to ask for money or be given an allowance as if they are children.

She said many children, also affected, are forced to watch their mothers being abused and feel guilty because they cannot protect their parents from such acts.

According to Strongfield, domestic violence leads to constant fear, instability and confusion and replaces comfort and nurturing in circumstances where children tend to become impulsive and aggressive after being exposed to it for a period of time.

She said boys who witness females being abused are ten times likely to become abusers in their lifetime.

Executive Director of Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA), Mr. Frederick Cox, speaking about the role and responsibility of men, said the health and well-being of women subjected to abuse suffer.

"We need to have more men advocate, talk out against violence in our society," he said.

Cox urged support from male members of the Police Force, so that, when women go to make complaints at stations, they will accept them.

He encouraged men belonging to religious organisations to get involved and discuss the issue on a regular basis.

Cox acknowledged that, while the Domestic Violence Act exists, it cannot, by itself, be effective and needs backing, so that women can enjoy better relationships with their husbands or other partners.

He pointed out that some men see legal marriages as a form of controlling women and it can result in violence.

Cox warned women to take note of the first sign of abuse, which is usually verbal and seek professional help.

PPP Central Executive Committee member, attorney-at-law Mr. Moses Nagamootoo, dealing with the sociological impact and implications of violence, recalled that WPO emerged from Women's Progressive Economic Organisation (WPEO) which was formed in 1947, with one of its founder members being retired President, Mrs. Janet Jagan, who was in the audience.

Minister in the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, Ms Bibi Shadick and WPO Chairman, Ms Indra Chandarpal attended the forum, as well.

Nagamootoo said one of the root causes of women's problems has to do with their economic empowerment and, in a violent society; they carry a greater burden than men.

He submitted that the economic importance of males is expressed by them having the final say on whether to punish or not punish wives or children for wrongdoings in homes.

The former Minister of Information declared that women can never go forward unless they break away from oppression within society.

He said, in the past, there was occupational discrimination against women and the oppressiveness of society was another contributing factor.

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