[www.inewsguyana.com] – Civil society experts are calling for more men to become involved in the response to the escalating pandemic of gender-based violence in Guyana.
The call was made at a film screening and panel discussion hosted by the Guyana Equality Forum (GEF), and its partners, on Monday (November 25) in observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
The film screening and panel discussion, which was held at Moray House in Georgetown, was the kick-off awareness-raising event for the 16 days of activism to end gender-based violence which culminates on December 10 (Human Rights Day).
According to a release from SASOD – Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination – much of the discussion centered on how some faith-based organisations perpetuate this violence; and conversely, the role of religious institutions as safe spaces and places of solace for victims of gender-based violence.
Patricia Sherratan-Bisnauth, Executive Director of GRPA, pointed out that the church is breaking its silence and speaking up against domestic violence.
Also speaking on the panel, Eric Phillips, Executive Director of the African Cultural Development Association (ACDA), lead the call for more men to be involved in the movement to end gender-based violence but also contended that women’s leadership, especially political leadership, is very important to this issue.
The other panelists were Karen De Souza from Red Thread, and Daunta Radzik representing Help and Shelter. They all noted that the level of violence within the family is alarming and that more has to be done to discourage others from being passive onlookers whenever abuse is occurring. De Souza pointed out that religious organizations need to be part of a comprehensive national plan to end gender-based violence and that the message has to come from them that “as important as the family is, it cannot be erected as more important than the safety of the women and children of the family.”
Meanwhile, Radzik commented that violence exists because of inequalities in relationships between men and women and that, to some degree, it is perpetuated by fear. “The fears and prejudices that suppress women are similar in nature to those that lead to discrimination against homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders,” Radzik added.
Other recommendations from the panel and the audience include the need to address violence against children, and expanding the Health and Family Life Education curriculum to include topics about sexuality and violence. There was also a call for the strengthening of institutional frameworks created to protect victims of gender-based violence and for material resources to be provided to support persons to leave abusive relationships.