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first_imgDear Editor,An opinion survey commissioned by The Caribbean Voice (TCV) and conducted during the last week of January revealed that 73% of those surveyed felt that social problems like depression, anxiety, alcoholism and suicide would increase because of the closure of the sugar estates.The survey also showed that 75% felt the Government is not doing enough to address suicide, while 69% felt the Government is not doing enough to address domestic abuse.Of the respondents interviewed, 79% support the call for the age of consent to be raised from 16 to 18, while 86% believe that sexual exploitation against young people is on the rise, and that Government needs to take action to deter such occurrences. Notably, 80% support the call for a sex registry for offenders. The survey also found that Guyanese were generally not aware of entities involved in suicide and abuse prevention, but there was more awareness of the work of The Caribbean Voice, most likely because TCV’s work is not centralized in Georgetown and environs, but extends to various regions, and is often a collaborative effort with other NGOs, special interests, and mass-based organizations.Conducted by experienced pollster Dr. Vishnu Bisram, the survey interviewed 490 individuals, representing Guyana’s ethnic makeup (41% Indians, 30% Africans, 18% Mixed, 10% Amerindians, 1% others) of the population. The findings, analysed at a significance level of 95%, has a margin of error of 4%. This is the third survey commissioned by The Caribbean Voice since we launched our anti-violence campaign in 2014. The first survey, done in November 2014 found that 92% of respondents believed suicide is preventable and 96% were willing to help in suicide prevention if given the relevant training. That survey also found that 66% of those interviewed were willing to intervene in domestic abuse if provided with the requisite training, although 19% were not willing to get involved, pointing out that the ‘peacemaker’ usually ends up being the enemy, an age old perspective that still seems to hold currency both in Guyana and the diaspora. And this is why TCV has been continually calling for a return of the Gatekeeper’s Program and piggybacking mental health on other government training programs.A subsequent survey done in March 2016 found that 92% felt that government was not doing enough to address mental health, while 78% believed that people with mental illnesses could live normal lives. And this is why TCV has been engaged in continual lobbying on a basket of measures, including counsellors in schools, mental health care integrated into the physical health care system, and relevant training for all Police officers. In any case, the most recent survey clearly indicates that not only is it time for a registry of sex offenders, but provides evidentiary support for reported plans to that effect by the Child Care and Prevention Agency and another Government agency. As well, the survey makes it clear that those who resist the call for raising the age of consent from 16 to 18 are in the small minority, and thus the Government should not allow the outmoded views of a vociferous few to override the desire of the vast majority of Guyanese. In fact, we urge the Government to commission its own survey, perhaps through the University of Guyana. Last year, neighbouring Trinidad & Tobago, with ethnic and cultural similarities to Guyana, raised the age of consent to 18. Haiti and the Dominican Republic also have the age of consent at 18, while there are ongoing calls for a similar measure in Jamaica, Barbados and a number of other Caribbean nations.Sincerely,The Caribbean Voicelast_img

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