The incidence of gender-based violence has increased during the past months due to COVID-19. With more persons at home, there has been an upsurge in reported cases of domestic violence. The restrictions on in-person schooling have also seen more girls being exposed to abuse at home, says Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr Vindhya Persaud.
She made these revelations during a virtual meeting of Commonwealth Ministers for Women’s Affairs and Gender and Development on COVID-19, earlier today.
In response to this increase, the Minister informed that a virtual help desk to receive reports of domestic violence, child abuse cases and requests for social assistance has been created.
A hotline number will soon be launched to specifically receive reports of domestic violence and child abuse, she said.
The minister added that a Survivors Advocacy Programme is also being implemented to support women impacted by gender-based violence.
In addition, she said that Guyana will soon benefit from the United Nations/European Union-funded Spotlight Initiative to address gender-based violence. Actions will be geared towards advancing changes in the prevention strategies and strengthening multi-sectoral responses to violence against women and girls. Focus will be placed on improving data collection and analysis to allow for evidence-based decision making. Support for women’s groups and civil society advocacy will also be enhanced, she said.
Dr Persaud noted that “the shining light in this difficult period has been the outstanding contributions of women in the response to the pandemic with many leaving their families daily to provide essential services to our population.”
She added, “My government recently announced its intention to establish childcare assistance for essential workers employed in both the public and private sectors. Despite the debilitating effects of the pandemic, we will continue to look ahead and work tirelessly to address gender inequality, empower our women and girls, and ensure that their human rights and dignity are upheld.”