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New Jersey Mission to build Benevolent Home in Port Mourant

By admin / Posted on 04 October 2010

Written by Sunday, 03 October 2010 05:41

THE NEW JERSEY Arya Samaj Humanitarian Mission (NJASHM) has embarked upon a project to house senior citizens, abused women and men and orphans in East Berbice. After analyzing the situation carefully with regard to the vulnerable groups at reference, NJASHM has decided to fast-track the construction of a two-storey building measuring 180’ by 60’ to accommodate between 100-200 individuals from all ethnic groups and religious backgrounds.

The estimated cost of this project is $US80,000-$100,000, and NJASHM has already begun a massive fundraising drive in the USA and Guyana for this project. The facility will be erected at Port Mourant, and will be managed by local volunteers in partnership with other NGOs here in Guyana. The organization contends that while there are some facilities for battered women in the city, there are none in the rural areas. Abused women and underage mothers, especially outside of the capital, they say, often feel as if they have no place to go. It is in light of this oversight that NJASHM has planned to build a home that will offer temporary housing, education and other necessary assistance to its residents. Given the rise in domestic violence, the abuse of children and the growing needs of seniors, NJASHM has risen to the challenge and decided that apart from carrying out its existing social services work, it will construct this modern facility to offer a home for such population at risk.

According to Pt Suresh Sugrim, leader of NJASHM, “domestic violence has become very rampant in Guyana, and there is an urgent need for additional support to arrest its prevalence. Every day that I read the newspapers and see another woman raped, another woman killed by her live-in boyfriend or husband…it is one of the most disgusting situations…For how much longer could civil society tolerate this level of violence directed at women?”

NJASHM had brought the problem of domestic violence more forcefully to the public when it joined with other NGOs to conduct a Walkathon in 2009 from Port Mourant to Albion , Berbice. Among other efforts initiated was a campaign to empower needy women to manage their own businesses, with the organization providing seed money for such projects ranging from G $50,000 to G$100,000.

So far, very few individuals have benefitted from this programme, which is still active. As part of this empowerment process, the organization encourages victims of domestic violence to speak out and not  remain silent. Pt Sugrim also credits the late Shri Prakash Gossai with being in the forefront of the fight to address the problem of domestic violence and suicide among Hindus and other religious faiths. Conceding that the government’s policy on domestic violence is still evolving, NJASHM says that while the State is playing an important and expanding role under the auspices of the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security and the Ministry of Health, its efforts need to be augmented by Not-for-Profit Organizations. Having come on board with the government, NJASHM is inviting other NGOs to do likewise, as such acts of benevolence will help restore the dignity of our women, and shield them from further violence and despair.

It says that as part of the rehabilitation programme at the  proposed Home, the womenfolk, both young and old, will be engaged in various forms of empowerment programmes such as craft/skills training, counselling to repair negative self-worth, and will also benefit from nursing/medical care among other things. Port Mourant was chosen partly because that region has a high incidence of abused women, and partly because the land space was readily donated by the Port Mourant Vedic Mandir and already well developed.

Despite the significant government programmes that have resulted in tangible progress, the organization says, abused women, orphans and vulnerable children continue to need help in Guyana. According to statistics released by the Guyana government on June 12, 2008, there were 3,600 cases of domestic violence reported in 2007 compared to 1,708 the previous year. “This represents a more than 100% increase in one year,” NJASHM said, adding: “When we add the vast number of cases that go unreported, a scary picture emerges. According to the US Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for the year 2007, domestic violence in Guyana is widespread. At least one in three Guyanese women has been a victim of domestic violence.”

Why this upsurge in domestic violence? NJASHM says that according to Pt Suresh Sugrim, “there are multiple factors involved in domestic violence including the following: chemical dependency, economic hardship, family dysfunction, lack of spirituality, poor communication skills, provocation by women and stress.” It further quotes Pt. Sugrim as saying that although the factors at reference can be linked to the abuse and battering of women, they are not necessarily the cause. “For example, if these associated factors are removed, the violence against women may not necessarily come to an end. The abuser would use violence as an effective method for gaining and keeping his control over someone else. Usually, the abuser does not suffer any adverse consequences because of his behaviour,” Sugrim reportedly said, adding: “History has shown that violence against women has not been treated as a ‘real’ crime. As a result, the lack of severe consequences, such as economic penalties and incarceration for men found/deemed guilty of abuse and battering allows the social problem to persist unabated. Men who are known abusers rarely have negative sanctions imposed up them.”

Abusers, he says, “usually see women as objects, and by extension, have no or little respect for them as a group. This is related to abusers’ low self-esteem which induces feelings of powerlessness. Although the abuser may seem ‘successful’; he usually feels socially inadequate. He develops an elaborate system of techniques of neutralization to explain his evil actions. He will blame his violence, for example, on other things such as having had a bad day, alcohol or drug use, or his partner’s behaviour.” He cites as being among warning signs of abusive behaviour bad temper, cruelty to animals, extreme jealousy, possessiveness, verbal abuse and/or unpredictability. Battered women, he says, “will experience embarrassment, isolation and shame and may not leave the violent relationship immediately for a number of reasons: (a) She realistically fears that the violence will escalate and may become fatal if she tries to leave; (b) she may fear of not having the support of her family and friends if she leaves; (c) she knows how difficult it will be to become a single parent with reduced financial support; (d) she may still be experiencing some good times, love, and hope mixed with  the manipulation, intimidation, and fear; and (e) she may not know where to get help or have access to a safe place and support.” NJASHM, which has donated some $G100,000 to the local NGO, Help and Shelter towards fighting domestic violence here, is calling on all other such organizations, including Mandirs, Masjids, and churches, to join and help them with their cause. “We alone cannot do the work,” it said.

 

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