Four Guyanese civil society organisations – Red Thread, Family Action Consciousness Togetherness (FACT), Artistes In Direct Support (A.I.D.S.) and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) – working on intersectional rights issues affecting child across the country, made submissions at a hearing with the state of Guyana before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on "Violence, Sexuality and Gender Issues Affecting Children in Guyana" during its 149th Ordinary Period of Sessions in Washington, D.C. on Monday, October 28, 2013.
Published: November 4, 2013
The hearing focused on three specific issues currently affecting children in Guyana: (1) corporal punishment; (2) discrimination and abuse based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and (3) comprehensive sexuality education in schools.
Karen De Souza, National Coordinator of Red Thread, reported that the principal narrative on corporal punishment is that children are out of control and teachers need the whip to regain and/or maintain control of and exercise authority over them. The Ministry of Education’s guidelines on maintaining order speak to the regulated and documented use of corporal punishment in schools “as a last resort.” However, the use of corporal punishment in schools is commonplace, to the extent that teachers appear not to recognize when they are using this form of abuse on the children in their care. Additionally, the very fact of allowing “regulated and documented use of corporal punishment” gives teachers permission to use it.
Children have suffered needless injuries because of teachers’ violence. Past newspaper reports of dislocated shoulders, fractures and marks left on children have only served to intensify the chorus that children are out of control and that teachers need protection. Eight-year old Guyanese Daria Nicholson, who presented at the hearing, described her feelings of shame, anger and sadness having received several lashes from her class teacher because she forgot her exercise book at home. She was never asked by her teacher to provide an explanation.
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