[Guyana] Our cultural norms reinforce Gender-Based Violence

Tiffany Barry – Stabroek News – Wednesday, 04 December 2013 (originally published 02 Dec)

Image: Stabroek News

The 16 days of activism to end gender-based violence began on November 25 with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW) and ends on December 10, International Human Rights Day. During this period, we raise awareness that gender-based violence is targeted violence directed against persons on the basis of their gender. It persists because of inequalities between genders, discrimination, and oppression and oftentimes affects the most vulnerable in our society.

There is no argument that gender-based violence disproportionately affects women and girls at every stage of their lives leaving them more vulnerable to domestic, sexual and other forms of violence. There is little consensus however, that men, boys and marginalised groups such as lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) persons are also affected by gender-based violence. During these 16 days of activism these issues should be addressed because gender-based violence is affront to our human dignity, and our human rights. It hinders our abilities to lead healthy and productive lives; and it reinforces inequalities and justifies discrimination.

In Guyana, violence against women has reached pandemic proportions, and affects a wide-cross section of our female population. On November 25, Guyanese remembered women such as Maharanie Permanand, who have lost their lives to intimate-partner violence, who have been left bruised and disfigured as a result of physical and verbal abuse, sexual violence, and human trafficking. During these 16 days, we call for more action to be taken to prevent this violence from occurring, and to protect survivors. Despite the Domestic Violence Act 1996 which gives victims legal protection under the law from their abusers, domestic violence is still rampant in Guyana. It seems engraved in our culture; it spreads across socio-economic, racial and religious backgrounds. According to a September 10 article in the Stabroek News, based on figures from the Guyana Police Service, of the 85 reported murders for the period August 2012 to August 2013, 13 were related to domestic abuse. Despite the efforts of numerous civil society groups, these forms of violence still persist with impunity for the perpetuators . . .

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