VAW NGO Forum – Guyana
Violence against Women Forum
December 19th 2011
Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown
The forum for the Guyanese Non Governmental organizations working towards the eradication and prevention of violence against women, was held at the Pegasus hotel in Georgetown Guyana on December 19th 2011
The Forum focused on strengthening the sector and improving its ability to support and help victims of domestic violence.
The President of the NCDF, Carol Daniel Chaired and facilitated the Forum.
Ms Daniel welcomed participants and thanked them for their attendance.
In a briefing of about the Organization, Ms Daniel informed the meeting that she founded the NCDF (2007), after spending a decade in England. The main focus of the NCDF is the development of the NGO sector in the region and to facilitate the creation of work plans, campaign strategies and the implementation of regional campaigns. The Board of the foundation comprises four members:
- President & Founder: Carol Daniel
- Vice President: Witek Hebanowski
- Corporate Secretary: Sr. Mary Claire Zitman
- Legal Director: Alice Daniel
The main focus of the meeting was to obtain feedback from NGOs in Guyana, on the recommendations coming out of the Violence against women Regional conference held in Trinidad in September 2010. The recommendations from the regional conference held in Trinidad in 2010 are compiled in a document entitled the (Cascadia document)
Ms Daniel then gave a presentation on the various international agreements on the eradication of violence against women signed by CARICOM governments. ( Please see attached document)
Introductions were done after the presentation. Participants gave their names and the name of their organization.
Ms Daniel then divided the participants into groups so that they may consider the recommendations in the Cascadia document.
The Role of the Police
Sensitivity training for police
There should be ethical and sensitivity training for the Police in the ways in which they deal with victims of domestic violence
Creation/re installation of a training manual for police officers dealing with victims of domestic violence.
The Guyana Forum agreed with this recommendation. However the forum recommended that sensitivity training on the issue of domestic violence should be included in the general curriculum of Police Training school.
The Guyana forum recommended the review and implementation of the training manual for police officers dealing with victims of domestic violence
NGOs in the region working against domestic violence should be used by regional governments to provide such training to police units across the region. New police recruits, in particular should be targeted.
The Guyana Forum agreed with this recommendation but added that the training being done by NGOs in the region should be under a unified training guide.
UWI as a tertiary level institute should also be used to provide training in some of the more sociological and psychological issues pertaining to domestic violence.
The Guyana Forum agreed with this recommendation; however they felt the sociological and psychological aspects of the training for police must also involve the University of Guyana which is not a part of UWI.
Creation of domestic Violence Unit
Each Police station should have a domestic violence unit attached to it. This in itself is not new as the domestic violence acts of a number of islands already include this provision.
However across the region there has been some level of experimentation but, in many cases those experiments have been discontinued.
The forum recommends that this provision of many of the DV acts across the region be implemented on a full scale.
The Guyana Forum agreed with this recommendation. They stated that a Domestic Violence task force was set up after the domestic violence act was passed in Guyana. Several recommendations came out of this task force, but those recommendations have never been implemented. However a positive result of this task force has been that police officers are engaged and many of them are pursuing the social work programme at the University of Guyana. The Guyana Forum is recommending that across the region police officers be encouraged to pursue the social work programme. The forum is also recommending that domestic violence units be set up at each police station in Guyana, with a sense of urgency.
The Guyana Forum recommended that in going forward a protocol on the response of the police to domestic violence incidents be created and implemented.
The Guyana Forum also recommended that counselor advocates be allowed to accompany victims of domestic violence when they go to the police to report an incident. The safe house, Help & Shelter in Guyana has already implemented a programme like this for their clients
Creation of sexual assault response team attached to domestic violence units
Each domestic violence unit should have attached to it a sexual assault response team that deal directly with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. This team should include ER nurses that are specially trained to deal with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence
The Guyana Forum agrees with this recommendation. The forum made additional recommendations in relation to the creation of a sexual assault response team.
The Guyana Forum recommended ‘client Friendly spaces’.
The current situation does not provide for a client friendly atmosphere, the result being that victims are reluctant to sign a statement of complaint against the perpetrator or even provide further evidence.
The Guyana forum also recommended that each police officer should be knowledgeable of the domestic violence act, especially the main tools of the DV act such as the protection orders, tenancy order and the occupation order.
Police officers should be trained in interviewing children from domestic violence homes with the objective of gathering evidence.
The Guyana Forum agreed with this recommendation.
Victim support professionals should be attached to sexual assault units. These should include psychologists and other rape crisis experts and victim support groups
The Guyana forum agreed with this recommendation. The forum added that victims are better supported at the NGO level compared to Government institutions. The Forum therefore recommended that the government divert resources to the NGO sector to support the sector in its effort to respond to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The Guyana forum also recommended that government should provide the funding for more shelters.
Security of Shelters
The forum identified a number of incidences at shelters, where abusive spouses tracked their partners to shelters, and became violent once locating their spouse. There should be armed police presence at shelters, or shelters should be no trespassing zones monitored regularly by the police.
The Guyana forum agreed with this recommendation.
Psychological counselling for Police officers
There should be mandatory psychological counseling for Police officers attached to Domestic violence units.
The Guyana Forum agreed with this recommendation. The forum added that within the police force there should be a monitoring system that ensures compliance.
The Guyana forum also added that there should a strategy mechanism to ensure that officers who are in violation of the domestic violence act in their own personal lives are disciplined.
The Health Sector in the region and its ability to cope with domestic violence
The Forum recommends the establishment of a series of protocols for dealing with victims of domestic violence.
The Establishment of a relationship between Health Care workers, the police and social workers in the fight against domestic violence.
Where a suspected case of domestic violence enters the hospital the police and social worker should be alerted…
The Guyana Forum agreed with the above recommendations. However the forum recommended that any established protocols should include the Ministry of Health, Human Services, Home affairs and Education in a multi-sector approach to the issue of domestic violence.
The Guyana forum recommended the implementation of the Sexual offences act of Guyana (2006-2008) as it pertains the implementation of a protocol to respond to domestic violence.
The Guyana forum also recommended the involvement of the University of Guyana in the development of a guideline for a protocol to assist health personnel to provide support to victims of domestic violence.
Mandatory reporting of cases of suspected domestic violence and sexual violence to the police by the health sector.
The Guyana Forum agreed with this recommendation.
There should be the attachment of at least one forensic nurse to every emergency room, in every hospital. This should allow for collecting evidence as early as possible in the life of a case.
Emergency room attendants should be properly trained to accurately complete medical forms for injuries, sustained by suspected domestic violence and sexual violence victims.
The creation of a unified data collection process that will support analytical and sociological research on the issue of domestic violence in the region
The Guyana Forum agreed with the above recommendations.
Development of the field of forensic nursing in the region
The forum recommends that the field of forensic nursing should be developed as a specialized area of nursing in the region. Initiatives to develop this branch of nursing should take the form of government assisted tertiary level study for previously qualified nurses interested in specializing in this are of nursing
There should be the creation of an association of forensic nurses in the region, in an effort to regulate this specialized branch of nursing.
The Guyana Forum agreed with the above recommendation. The Forum added that forensic pathologists were also needed in the region. The Forum noted that Guyana was in the process of creating its first forensic Lab. The forum also noted that forensic psychologists were also needed in Guyana.
Mental Health sector and coping with domestic violence in the region.
The forum recommends mandatory counselling for perpetrators of domestic violence who have been served with restraining orders.
Training programs for health care workers should incorporate HIV/AID prevention awareness counselling for victims of domestic violence and sexual violence.
The Guyana forum agreed with this recommendation. The forum made additional recommendations such as;
Mental Health professionals should be used in schools, police stations, community health care centers to counsel families experiencing violence in the home.
The Education sector – Coping with domestic violence in the region
The forum recommends domestic violence awareness programs that are age appropriate, targeting teenagers and young adults. These programs should attempt to make teenagers and young adults aware of what is considered appropriate and inappropriate behaviour in relationships
The Guyana Forum agreed with this recommendation. In addition the forum recommended that research be done to identify trends and needs. This would be a pre-requisite to implementing domestic violence awareness programs that target teenagers and young adults. The needs and trend research would better identify target groups for an awareness campaign.
There should be the initiation of mentoring programs for young teenage boys in schools. These programs should promote appropriate sexual conduct and responsibility.
The Guyana forum agreed with this recommendation. The forum made additional recommendations. The forum recommended that peer mediation should be introduced in schools targeting children at an early age. The forum felt that mediation would cope with the bullying that seems to be increasing in our schools. The forum felt there was a direct relationship between bullying in schools and domestic violence.
The groups presentations having been made, Ms Daniel thanked the participants for their participation and the forum was concluded.
Guyana Faith and HIV Coalition
CPIC Moniques caring Hands
Women across Differences
Guyana Association of professional Social Workers
A.M.E. Zion Church
Soesdyke Business Development Group
Guyana Hindu Packar
Kids First Fund
Mediation Institute of Guyana
Communities Unite to rebuild & Empower
Brother Noah’s Ministries
Help & Shelter
The Fernandes Foundation
Inter American Development Bank