The Guyana Association of Women Lawyers (GAWL) is calling for the establishment of a safe house to protect victims of domestic violence from further abuse. Guyana has seen significant rise in cases of domestic violence over the past five years.
For this year alone, at least 7 women have been murdered by their partners. The figure is much higher for women who have found themselves as victims of various forms of domestic violence. Almost daily in the courts, cases of domestic abuse would come up for hearing.
The Women Lawyers Association in a statement said it remains “deeply concerned about the apparent never– ending scourge of domestic violence, and in particular the recent spate of incidents of domestic violence against children and women, including one of our dear members.”
The Association is recommending the establishment of a safe house to accommodate women who make the decision to leave their homes and may be in need of alternative accommodation for themselves and their children until the law can take its course. “Domestic violence is not a trivial matter. WE must take condign action NOW!”, the statement added.
According to the GAWL, it must be realised that domestic violence is not just a women’s issue, but a social and political one that should concern every citizen and our leaders. The group is demanding that “justice be done in these and all other cases and that the lawful steps be taken to have the perpetrators punished.”
“The recent incidents are in no way isolated ones; domestic violence occurs with frightening regularity in Guyana. It is well-known that many complaints are simply disregarded or not given appropriate responses. We urge that the wheels of justice turn not only to recent incidents but to the epidemic of domestic violence that threatens all of us.”, the GAWL stated.
And the Women Lawyers group also wants the Police to take cases and complaints about domestic violence seriously. There have been several documented and published cases of domestic violence with the victims complaining that they were “turned away” from Police stations and their complaints treated as private matters.
“The police must tangibly demonstrate all the training given and protocols developed to deal with domestic violence offences. Likewise, victims must use the system and not continue to condone these acts by refusing to give evidence. Refusal to act now may mean injury or death sooner or later, as a perpetrator who is not punished is emboldened to continue for as long as possible”, the release noted.
The Association has also thrown out a challenge for “our leaders in Guyana to urgently seek meaningful research by professionals to update the causes and effect of domestic violence on our society in order to guide a sensible national response”.