By Tiana Cole
It is approaching one month since Guyana has been placed on a partial lock-down to curtail the spread of the deadly Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
But while the nation tackles this public health issue, another one seems to be creeping in- domestic violence. In fact, there has been an increase in reports of domestic violence.
This is according to Bonita Montaque, founder of The United Bridge Builders Mission (UBBM), a local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).
During an exclusive interview with Guyana Standard, Montaque, a former policewoman, related that prior to the lockdown orders, the NGO received around four to five domestic violence-related calls per day.
But ever since the lockdown, there has been a surge in such calls to the organization. It is now receiving on average four to five calls every hour.
Apart from that, Montaque said more and more family members have been calling and making reports on behalf of their loved ones who are scared to speak out about their situation.
According to her, “From last week there has been an inflation in calls as it relates to domestic violence and we are doing everything possible to help these victims.”
Montaque said that her NGO is currently assisting victims based on their needs.
“Those who need relocating, accommodation, and food are being assisted,” she added.
The NGO has also been sharing out hampers to those in need due to the current economic pressure, which according to Montaque, is somewhat causing persons to “lash out at their spouses.”
She noted that many callers are stating that since the lock-down, their partners have been consuming excessive alcohol.
According to her, children are the ones who are feeling the brunt of frustration since they are home from school.
In helping to ease the tension in the home, the NGO said it is working on setting up indoor activities for the children.
Those desirous of contributing towards helping domestic violence victims can contact the UBBM on +592- 667-4640.
Moreover, another local NGO, Help and Shelter said it is anticipating an increase in domestic violence-related calls during this time.
The Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) has collaborated with this NGO to make its hotline numbers toll free during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
“We are all in this together and GTT is happy to support the Help and Shelter Organisation in its effort to confidentially assist those who are most vulnerable, especially during this pandemic,” said Jasmin Harris, GTT’s Public Relations Manager.
A representative of Help and Shelter, Danuta Radzik, said she is grateful that GTT has partnered to help curb domestic violence in Guyana at this time.
“We at Help and Shelter are pleased to have this toll free service from GTT. Sometimes persons are unable to call the Hotline number because of a lack of credit on their phone; this is a real impediment. This initiative will assist persons to get the help they need and it is a great boost for us to assist the abused in Guyana. This partnership and support are truly welcomed” said Radzik.
Mounting data suggests that domestic abuse is acting as an opportunistic infection, flourishing in the conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United Nations has called for urgent action to combat the worldwide surge in such violence.
Persons are encouraged to call 0910 if they are victims- or know victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual violence, and human trafficking cases.
Also, if you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic violence, kindly make contact with
The Ministry of Social Protection, Sexual Offences, and Domestic Violence Unit 24 hour helpline on 227-0206.
If you’re unable to speak safely, you can text via WhatsApp (592) 640-1011/1012; Email email@example.com or Messenger at #cutitout592.
The Ministry of Social Protection also has safe spaces and help available for those in need.