Recent media reports about a protest organised by Red Thread calling for the Government to take disciplinary action against Minister of Social Protection (MSP) Volda Lawrence suggested that only Red Thread was present at the protest. In fact, Help and Shelter, the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association, ChildLink Inc, and Forward Guyana also supported the protest.
We share Red Thread’s outrage over this incident and reiterate that it is unacceptable for Minister Lawrence to respond to repeated allegations of child abuse by saying that, “This is a family issue that has been going on and on and on and on for whatever reason, I can’t tell you, because if I had a brother, even if there was an accusation, this is not how I would go about helping him.”
In the first place, the Minister should know that no incidence of child abuse is a “family issue”. As her own Director of the Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA) repeatedly tells the public, the protection of children is everyone’s business. This being so, it is the MSP who must take the lead to ensure that all allegations are thoroughly investigated and all victims receive supportive services. In addition, the Ministry’s role is to provide services and support for victims and non-offending family members – not to help perpetrators.
The Minister should also be aware of the seriousness of the repeated allegations against Mr Harding since the CCPA has been directly involved with the children who have allegedly been victimised. It remains unclear why, despite the Ministry’s knowledge of these allegations, the issue has been allowed to “go on and on and on and on” as the Minister stated.
At best, the Minister is unaware of the role her Ministry is required to play with respect to the protection of children; at worst, she has turned a blind eye to allegations against a member of her party. Either way, the Government must deal with this issue swiftly and decisively.