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Homestretch Avenue, D’ Urban Park, Georgetown. Guyana. S. A 

Statement on International Day against Violence against Women, 2023

This year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is being observed under the theme “Invest to prevent violence against women and girls”. This is befitting and timely given the ongoing situation in Guyana.

Still recovering from the ravages of the Covid 19 pandemic, many relationships are now faced with the realities of the aftermath, in particular loss of employment and or income for many households, particularly those with a single income. This among other situations encountered, including the death of breadwinners and lack of alternative support systems, has led to considerable stresses on all members of households, contributing to the intensification and escalation of conflicts. The lack of knowledge of effective approaches to resolving these conflicts has led to an increase in abusive behaviour. Covid 19 also brought new challenges to the dynamics of violence against women and girls.

At Help & Shelter, our face-to-face services have remained constant but we have seen an increase in persons accessing our hotlines services owing to easier accessibility to much needed psychosocial services. There has been a decrease in femicides this year when compared with the same period last year. This, from our observation is indicative of women making the decision to leave abusive relationships. But this has given rise to the issue of homelessness, which is evident in about 40% of cases engaging the attention of Help & Shelter.

In keeping with this year’s theme, we wish to propose a few initiatives that would be of benefit to women and girls: the establishment of safe spaces in as many communities as possible; subsidised access to affordable housing for women and children affected by violence; care services for children of single working mothers; suicide ideation intervention programmes for schools; continuous training for essential service providers; conflict resolution engagement sessions and greater access to alcohol and drug rehabilitation programmes for male perpetrators.

 

Alcohol and drug abuse has become endemic in Guyana and is a major contributing factor to violence against women and girls. Help & Shelter applauds all the efforts made by government and civil society to make a difference in the lives of women and girls. This year, we have been able, through support from the Government of Canada and UNFPA to offer our services in Regions 1 and 9, and with kind contributions of the private sector and individuals to extend our counselling services to Region 6, Berbice.

We wish to acknowledge the government and citizens of Guyana for their invaluable support of our work over the years and look forward to strengthening relations as we work collectively to rid our society of the scourge of violence against women and girls.