Gender-based violenceThe Women’s Progressive Organisation (WPO) joins Guyana and the rest of the world in observance of the ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’ campaign to challenge violence against women and girls.The campaign runs from today, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10th December, Human Rights Day. The theme for this year is “Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls”.To commence the day, the WPO will pay homage to the three Mirabel sisters of Guatemala, who were murdered by the Trujillo regime on 25th November, 1960, while saluting the women of Guatemala who were relentless in their campaign internationally to expose the tyranny of the Government and the murder of the three sisters, which became the catalyst for change.According to WPO, these women are not only to be seen as a symbol of resistance, but also champions of freedom and justice, as the United Nations (UN) has officially recognized this day.The organisation also cited that the theme to end violence against women is becoming a top priority issue, since statistics by the UN Women have revealed that 35 per cent of women in the world have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives. Some national studies show that 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.According to the WPO, in Guyana, although the Domestic Violence Legislation was passed in 1996 and support was given to areas, including shelter, counselling and legal aid, there is still a high level of violence against women and girls.While recognizing that not all cases are reported, the WPO says that statistics in the public domain are frightening enough.“It is unclear whether the law which was passed is known in the various corners of the country, or whether the agencies and institutions responsible for implementing the laws are following the prescribed processes and procedures required of them. Are reports properly documented, and are court orders enforced? Do citizens have access to services such as adequate shelter, counselling and legal aid?” WPO questions.These mark some of the important areas to be addressed in an effort to not only promote awareness, but to also provide justice to those who have been violated, the WPO has said.While the issue is compounded by poor reporting by law enforcing officers, the WPO calls for the issue to be addressed urgently.The WPO is of the firm view that the Government should provide greater leadership and support to the areas raised above, by fostering closer collaboration with the many groups who are already engaged in fighting violence against women and girls.“The news of another woman or girl who becomes a victim is one too many. Let us all do more in helping to reduce the scourge of violence in our society,” the women’s arm of the PPP has appealed.