With the implementation of a curfew and rules restricting persons from leaving their homes to combat the spread of COVID-19, the Ministry of Social Protection’s Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Policy Unit has set up a hotline for persons who may be living with their abusers.
The Department of Public Information (DPI) disclosed that persons can call the 24-hour helpline at 640-1011 for assistance.
Unit manager Akeila Doris said a safe space has been set up for victims of domestic violence as Guyanese join the rest of the world in sheltering at home to stop the spread of the COVID-19.
The safe shelter can accommodate victims and their children under the age of 14 years. The facility has a full kitchen and pantry, dining room, living room, playroom, recreation room, internet access, bathrooms and laundry room.
Counselling services are provided and the Unit is also working with the police.
Doris explained that “Guyanese women experience IPV (intimate partner violence) at significantly higher rates than the global average of 1 in 3 women.”
She pointed out that there has been a notable spike in cases of domestic or household violence due to increased tensions in the household, as already shown by data on China, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The Government has closed schools and implemented a one-month curfew from 18:00hrs to 06:00hrs countrywide.
Doris said “tension can grow as a result of self-isolation, close persons becoming infected, job and income uncertainty and stress. This can lead perpetrators to resort to violence as self-isolation reinforces their control mechanisms.”
On April 5, United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres called on governments around the world to implement measures to protect the safety of women, girls, and children.
He said: “For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest. In their own homes.”
Guterres said with economic and social pressures growing, many women can become trapped with abusive partners.