GINA, GUYANA, Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Participants at the National Toshaos Council (NTC) Meeting today, shared their concerns and suggestions on tackling the issue of Trafficking In Persons (TIP) with Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence.
The minister urged the over 200 leaders gathered at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, Liliendaal to play their part in eliminating TIP.
TIP is a major concern for the country’s first people, since many of them travel to the city or leave their communities in search of jobs. Some of them fall prey to exploitation, sex slavery and or modern day slavery. This point was stressed at today’s session of the NTC.
During the exchange of questions and answers between the gathering and the Minister, Antonio Hackett, Community Development Officer (CDO), Region 10 asked what follow- up services are being offered by the ministry to young people who have been sexually assaulted or trafficked.
The Minister in her response pointed out that counselling is provided, however the Ministry is faced with a shortage of Probation Officers. To address the problem, the Ministry is currently re-assigning the task of these officers to facilitate more time and focus on following-up on pending cases and support for victims, she explained.
Further, Minister Lawrence noted that she recently returned from Kwakwani, Region 10, where she saw a ‘child holding a child.’ “It was a 13- year old child, who is the mother of a one-year plus son, and nobody said anything, not the police, not the Community Health Worker, nobody,” she stressed.
Hackett also questioned what measures are in place for men who are affected by social issues, since most of the focus is usually on women. The Minister responded by stating that a Gender Policy is being developed to address social issues affecting both men and women, allowing equality among the genders.
Meanwhile, Sister Lyn from Bamboo Landing, Region One emphasised the need for the government to look into the issue of school children being preyed on by wanted men in the area. Minister Lawrence committed to visiting the area, along with a team from the Education Ministry.
Additionally, another NTC member supported the discussion by stating that there is need for the Ministry to look into the areas where there are large and medium scale mining, since these are the areas where TIP is most common.
The Social Protection Minister explained that the Ministry has begun to engage these large scale businesses in discussion. Minister Lawrence said that while outsiders are involved in these offences, it is usually, “someone from the community who takes the children out by saying that they will find them work.”
She underlined the importance of parents and guardians enquiring where their children will be taken, who they will be staying with and also taking note of addresses and contact information for those who will be employing the children, when sending them out for work.
Apr 21, 2017