Sexual, domestic violence 2017-2021 action plan slated for May implementation

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An action plan for the implementation of the sexual offences and domestic violence 2010 Act is expected to be launched in May 2017.

At a consultation hosted by the National Task Force on Sexual and Domestic Violence, on Wednesday (March 22, 2017), Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally said that for years there has been an upsurge in sexual violence cases and social ills in Guyana.

The Minister said “the plan is expected to be launched in May; therefore it is important for all members of the task force to provide their comments and feedback on the plan of action so that we can ensure it is launched on the proposed scheduled date…if we don’t get feedback we will not be able to implement the plan effectively.”

The 2017-2021 national plan of action is intended to be implemented throughout Guyana by the sexual violence unit of the Ministry of Social Protection, under the guidance of the National Task Force. It will serve as a guide to prevent and respond to violence against women and children.

Manager of the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Policy Unit, Akeelo Doris explained that in the interim, the task force has to create awareness. Doris noted that “the activities of the task force does not limit individual agencies from implementing programmes on their own, you already had your budgetary allocations, but we’re hoping that once we can finalise our plan of action, we can have a budget specifically for implementing activities at the task force level. So the task force will be adding value to what individual partners are doing.”

Doris added that the National Task Force will also seek inputs from relevant experts including those with knowledge of, and experience in sexual offences matters and issues involving hinterland communities.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Shalimar Ali-Hack also spoke at Wednesday’s event. She added that emphasis must be placed on informing persons on the policies and laws guiding sexual and domestic violence. “The persons need to understand that if they’re between 12 and 14 (years old) you cannot have consensual sex with someone who is two years older than you, and if you’re between 14 and 16 (years old) you cannot have consensual sex with someone who is more than four years older than you,” the DPP explained .

Other members present at the consultation included officials from the Ministries of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Education, Social Protection, Public Health, and representatives from Help and Shelter, the Guyana Police Force and the DPP’s Chambers.

The task force will continue to meet for consultations, once every three months until the action plan is implemented.

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