Region 3 community advocates being trained to spot and respond to gender-based violence


In efforts to tackle gender-based violence within communities, the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security has launched the Community Advocates Network (CAN) in Region Three (Essequibo-Islands West Demerara).

The CAN initiative will see 90 volunteers from communities such as Anna Catherina, Crane, Parika, Belle West, Leonora and other areas participating in the two-day training. They will be trained to spot the signs of gender-based violence portrayed by persons and families and respond to these.

During the launch of the training at the Lenora Technical and Vocational training Centre, West Coast Demerara, Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr Vindhya Persaud said the training will allow persons from communities to be the first responders to gender based violence.

“Don’t turn a blind eye to your daughter, your daughter-in-law or whoever that lady may be or the males in your family who are facing domestic violence; it is not okay, it is not acceptable and that is what we need to get to,” she stated.

She said this is important because the victims will be more willing to share their experience with persons they know and feel more comfortable making reports to authorities with the support provided by the volunteers.

“If we are to target domestic violence in all its forms, we all need to be involved. So the network that we have is a partnership between the public and stakeholders. With this type of collaborative efforts, I believe we can address the gaps.

“We can work on changing the narrative in our country where we significantly reduce and then completely eradicate domestic violence across the country,” the Minister said.

Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr Vindhya Persaud addressing the volunteers (Photo: DPI)

Dr Persaud said she wants to see less women, children, elders and men being victims of violence. She said this behaviour has become a norm due to its lengthy existence but it is a cycle that must be broken and it will take the cooperation of the community, the authorities and the ministry.

“I want to tell you to multiply your efforts by getting to know each other. So should you be made aware of another issue in another region you know who to reach out to,” Dr Persaud told the advocates being trained.

Further she urged the advocates to ask questions when they see signs of violence. She reminded them that, “You are our eyes and ears out there in the community you are the people who we will look to first for more influence in the communities to change the narrative of the survivors.”

The advocates are urged to take the knowledge gained back to their individual communities and further train persons. The Minister noted that bringing awareness to adults and children will assist with changing tackling violent behaviour that might have been learnt from early on.

The Ministry has also launched other initiatives which assist with getting immediate help to victims of gender-based violence and train the persons who respond to these reports. Among these initiatives are the CopSqaud 2000, the Legal probono 500, SAFE vouchers and the 914 hotline.

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