Inter-faith forum come out against domestic violence, child abuse

Inter-faith forum come out against domestic violence, child abuse

Written by Shirley Thomas

Sunday, 19 February 2012 21:25

DOMESTIC violence, child abuse and their perpetrators came under fire last Wednesday at an inter-faith prayer and candlelight vigil at Port Mourant, East Berbice, where more than 400 persons from all walks of life converged to register their dissatisfaction with the growing scourge and to collectively wage war against it.

Pandit Suresh Sugrim (left) in brief discussion with Minister of Human Service and Social Security, Dr. Jennifer Webster (right) at Port Mourant last Wednesday.

The forum was organized by the New Jersey Arya Samaj, in collaboration with the Guyana Central Arya Samaj Humanitarian Mission. It was designed to address the daunting problem of Domestic Violence and Child abuse locally.

Quote-“It seems to me that as individuals we have lost control of ourselves. We drink [imbibe alcohol] and behave in shameful ways, swear in the loudest voices, and become violent for little or no reason.”

Held under the theme, “Enough is Enough!” the awareness forum brought together persons from diverse groupings, joining hands and taking a principled position aimed at frontally addressing and breaking the neck of the scourge, currently being witnessed in its worst form, and which strikes at the very fabric of society.

The forum, was held outside Spready’s bakery, next to the Port Mourant Market, brought together hundreds of keenly enthusiastic persons who, with one accord, registered their complete dissatisfaction over the fact that, even though there are laws pertaining to Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, these are honoured more in the breach. Concerns raised spoke of persons who, in clear contempt of the law, continue to:

* wantonly batter and humiliate women, denying them their basic rights and freedoms in the home, and invariaby some of these cases result in murder of the vulnerable women
* rape and otherwise molest innocent children, damaging them physically, psychologically (particularly girls) while threatening to kill their parents if the children report the abuse and the parents take action against the predators.
* feel themselves ‘untouchable’ and ‘above the law’ which they openly flout, and who
* attempt to ‘pay off’ the parents/guardians of a child/children, and in other ways attempt to ‘obstruct due process’ as it relates to the prosecution predators.

Among those present at the forum were:  Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Hon. Dr. Jennifer Webster; Regional Chairman, Mr. David Armogan; Deputy Regional Chairman, Mr. Gagroo; Executives of the Arya Samaj; Director of the University of Guyana Berbice Campus, Professor Daizal R. Samad; and representatives of the three major religions in Guyana – Christians, Hindus and Muslims.

Speakers included Minister Webster, Pandit Sugrim, Professor Samad, Dr. Vishwa Mahadeo of the Guyana Central Arya Samaj, Mr. Alex Foster and Pastor Nandrine Kishoon.

The joint body said it sees the need for a unified approach to fighting the scourge, involving stakeholders from across the spectrum.

In a scathing attack on the scourge, Professor Samad declared, “To combat this evil, we must all join hands and form a protective barrier that keeps safe, our young and vulnerable. Each religious organisation has a part to play; each social group must be part of this.
“The Guyana Police Force is central; the legal community must come on board; the private sector must lend its voice. The education system must give this attention; each governmental and regional agency must make this part of its mandate; and the University of Guyana must be at the forefront.”

And calling a spade a spade, he cited imbibing alcohol as one of the root causes of the abuse suffered by women and children at the hands of the abusers.
“It seems to me that as individuals we have lost control of ourselves. We drink [imbibe alcohol] and behave in shameful ways; swear in the loudest voices and become violent for little or no reason,” he chided.

Professor Samad conceded that the perpetrators of domestic violence and child abusers are people without moral substance – “They are without conscience, without decency, without goodness,” he said, adding that our society should have zero tolerance for that kind of moral corruption.

Meanwhile, Pandit Suresh Sugrim whose brainchild the forum was also addressed the gathering and condemned domestic violence and child abuse (molestation) in the strongest possible terms.  Highlighting the atrocities, and calling for a new way forward, he said, “Women need to be loved; children need to be cared for…”
He is however of the view that, “… the only way we can break this vicious cycle is through the power of education and committed endeavour.”

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