East Bank groups protest against domestic violence

Stabroek News
March 1, 2004

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Marchers as they took off from the Esso Service Station in McDoom headed for Agricola. The march and rally yesterday sought to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual abuse and domestic violence in Guyana. (Ken Moore photo)

A sharp lookout should be kept for would-be abusers who make suggestive remarks concerning children.

This was among the messages at yesterday's community rally held at the Evans Phillip Park Ground, Agricola, East Bank Demerara.

A march originating from the Esso Gas Station in Mc Doom and ending at the ground preceded the rally which lasted for about one hour.

A group comprising residents of Agricola organised the march and rally with the aim of condemning all acts and forms of sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Speaking at the rally was Vidyaratha Kissoon of Help and Shelter, which reaches out to persons who are victims of abuse. Speaking directly to the children present at the rally, he said that if anyone came to them and tried to touch them in a way that was inappropriate they should scream. He said that persons would try to do this thinking that the child would be scared of them and not want to protest or complain.

He urged, too, that parents should not beat their children and that they should find other ways of discipline which are of a non-violent nature. He said that the reason that some people beat there children is because their children cannot beat them back. He asked that the next time someone attempts to beat his or her child he or she should stop to think about what was the exact source of the frustration. He said too that parents have to talk about sex with their children and that they have to keep the lines of communication open.

He further implored parents to listen to their children and vice-versa. Kissoon made the point that in the instances of sexual abuse, even amidst all the police action against the perpetrator, the parent has to ensure that the child is safe and gets the necessary medical and psychological attention.

Some of the messages written on the placards were "men, respect your family", "men, treat your women like queens" and "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world."

Denise Beresford of the Guyana Training Agency said: "You have to pay serious attention to sexual abuse in the home. If there is domestic violence going on we have to say something about it." She is of the view that the perpetrators should be brought to justice and get counselling. To those who might be victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse, she said: "You can seek help from someone you trust."

A representative from the Seventh-Day Adventist Church said that parents must listen to their children, stressing that it was time for people to act. To the children he said: "Your parents need to know what is bothering you."

He spoke of the many suicides in Guyana and said that if the problem is not dealt with, "we will lose our young people."

Some of the other organisations involved in the march and rally were the Pathfinders Club, the Seventh-Day Adventists Community Services, the Agricola Women's Outreach Development Group, the Bible Way Church, the Mount Sinai Church, Every Child Guyana and the Ricola Boxing Gym of Agricola.