Mrs. Hughes: It is my pleasure to stand here and to commend the Hon. Member Mrs. Deborah Backer for bringing this very important motion on interpersonal violence to our Parliament and National Assembly today. I think all of us would agree, and there is no dispute on any side, the political sides - I do not want to use the word “divide”, but it is the political sides of this room - that interpersonal violence is in fact a very serious issue, not only in Guyana, but now internationally. We must accept that over the years is has grown and mushroom into a challenge that we all seek to solve.
Part of the challenge we realise is that this has indeed becomes epidemic in proportion as a motion alludes to. The word “epidemic”, if we look at the dictionary, suggests that it is like a disease that is infiltrating many aspects of our life and our bodies. Another train of thought that comes with the word “epidemic” is one, as the dictionary defines, “a wide pervasive rise of something that is usually undesirable.” We can agree that interpersonal violence has become epidemic and therefore the motion acknowledging that it is an important one.
We feel what the motion does is bring to centre stage, with the input of all the Members of this House, the importance of finding real solutions to this problem. What we in fact say is that we applaud and recommend and support all the various organisations that have been listed in the motion, that all the other speakers have mentioned. I do not want to list them once again. What we are saying is that in fact we are doing a good job but we recognised that if we are to look back over the five years a lot of this issue have not changed. We continue to see forms of interpersonal violence - violence against women, men, children, all ranges of the problem. We say that this motion allows us to look at it and to say what else we can do. What have we failed to do in finding a solution to this issue? One of the things we applauded is the suggestion that now, given the amendments, which we have been able to compromise and agree on, we can put to the Parliamentary Management Committee that a special day be allocated, which we know, overtime, will raise awareness to this problem.
We do not want this to be mere words and just commit to change, but certainly having a Special Select Committee look at the challenges and to receive recommendations, and analysis, and research data, we feel that will ensure that we move forward.
There is much that needed to be done. I know that the Hon. Minister spoke about the National Commission for Law and Order and had some of his reservations about what the motion could actually do. I think we want to say that if we just look at the newspapers, if we look at any television newscast, if we listen to any radio programme, if we talk with members of our communities and, unfortunately, for many in this House, they have experienced or have direct experience of relatives and friends who have had to face interpersonal violence... What we are in fact saying is that we approve and allow this motion and we support the fact that we can send it to a Special Select Committee that will be able to investigate a bit more. We hope that some very specific timelines, maybe just about 12 months, be put in place to make sure that at the end of that time we have something concrete. We want to ensure that we see some fundamental change.
I want to especially applaud all the Members of the three major political parties. I want to applaud our ability on this occasion to come to some consensus, in terms of the amendments that we are putting forward, which I know the Hon. Member will explain. I want to reiterate our support with the other Members of the other political parties to find a real solution to this problem that really is the scourge of Guyana right now.
Thank you very much. [Applause]