GHRA survey on sexual violence determines….
Regions One, Ten at opposite ends of scale

Kaieteur News
March 8, 2007

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Females in Region 10 are safer from sexual violence than anywhere else in Guyana . However Amerindian girls between the ages of 12-16 years living in Region One are the most vulnerable group in the country.

Meanwhile, Amerindian females in Region One are three times more vulnerable to sexual assaults than females in Georgetown and girls between 12-16 years are the age group most vulnerable to sexual assaults.

These findings are contained in the Guyana Human Rights Association's third report, “Getting Serious: Detecting & Protecting against Crimes of Sexual Violence in Guyana ”.

The study which was recently released is part of the organisation's campaign against sexual violence, sought to test whether it is possible to develop characteristics of potential victims and likely predators in sexual violence crimes in Guyana by analysing information contained in police files.

Through collaboration with the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) the study was able to determine that with the appropriate computer software a national programme could be developed to systematically record such information.

The report noted that although care must be taken to ensure this process does not deteriorate into stereo-typing or discrimination, applied appropriately, the information generated by these techniques will raise levels of detection in crimes of sexual violence. Moreover, the information also provides the foundation for developing effective protection programmes for girls and young women.

The report showed that the prevalence rate for sexual violence crimes in region 10 is only 3%.

Other key characteristics discovered about victims and predators in Guyana are that 44% of sexual violence crimes reviewed were committed on persons of Afro-Guyanese descent, followed by Indo-Guyanese (27%) descent, Mixed and Amerindian races (13% each) and Portuguese (3%).

53% of persons accused were found to be of Afro-Guyanese descent, 20% of Indo-Guyanese, 11% of Amerindian and 15% Mixed.

It was also found that 54% of perpetrators were employed, 38% unemployed and 8% were students.

Some 26% of victims are to be found in Georgetown and a further 20% in Region 4 whilst 37% of sexual violence crimes against women above the age of 25, occur in Region 6.

An interesting discovery was that 23% of rapes involved abduction, the majority by minibus operators, while surprisingly more than half (53%) of rapes occurred during the day, with 40% by night and 8% both day & night

Other notable findings are that 69% of victims of sexual violence cases were 16 years or below and that fathers, stepfathers and father-figures are responsible for over 67% of family-related sexual violence.

Additionally, the study revealed that 43% of victims report rapes within 24 hours, 41% of them report to the police themselves whilst 66% of victims first confide the incident to relatives.

Use of condoms was reported in only a meagre 3% of the cases.

It was also found that more than two-thirds of sexual violence crimes occur in the home of the victim or the accused and perpetrators are known by victims in three out of four sexual violence crimes.

1 in 5 perpetrators of sexual violence is related to his victim.

The GHRA campaign to stop sexual violence against women was launched with a study on low conviction rates, “Without Conviction: Sexual Violence Cases in the Guyana Justice Process in 2005”, and followed in 2006 by “Justice For Rape Victims: Reform of Laws and Procedures in Guyana ”.

In addition to the reports, campaign material produced included a training manual for use by police prosecutors, “Prosecuting Sexual Offences”, produced in collaboration with the Office of the DPP and the GPF, and a DVD “Care and Evidence”, produced by Kings College Hospital and the Metropolitan Police Force in London, reproduced with permission and utilised in a number of local schools and learning institutions.

Public Service Announcements on sexual violence, produced for television use by young people, were also formulated as well as a 15-minute documentary on sexual violence in adolescent relationships for use in schools produced by young people.

Twenty-five discussion leaflets on the problem were distributed across Guyana , along with 5,000 discussion summary sheets on justice for rape victims.

A soon-to-be-released study explores the possibility of the integrated provision of services to avoid victims of sexual violence in Guyana having to find five or six unrelated service providers to attend to their legal, medical, welfare, and psychological needs.

The materials were used for education and awareness activities in schools, training institutions, youth groups, faith-based and other community organisations to lobby for reform of rape laws and judicial procedures relating to rape crimes; and to mobilise women in local communities to create support groups for victims of sexual violence and their families.