– issues call for abused women to “speak out and get out”Minister within the Natural Resources Ministry, Simona Broomes has issued an urgent call to women in domestic violence situations to “speak out and get out”, noting that often times, as is being shown, the abuse ends in death.The Minister, currently assigned to undertaking development activities in Linden, made the call on Friday, after visiting 38-year-old Onika Kingston who was seriously burnt about her body with hot rice water by her reputed husband, Leslie Woolford on Thursday.Kingston, of Silvertown, Wismar, Linden, remains a patient at the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC), where she was admitted after suffering first- and second-degree burns to approximately 28 per cent of her upper body, including her back, chest, and arms.The incident occurred at the couple’s home after an argument ensued. Woolford who then rushed to the Police station to report what transpired has since been taken into custody. During the visit, Minister Broomes offered words of encouragement to the mother of five and wished her a speedy recovery, as she posited that justice would be served. Issuing an encouragement to women, the Minister noted that she too has had challenges in life as a woman, but noted that she has always stood her ground.“Had I not, maybe I would have been just like another woman,” she said, adding that abuse was a topic many women did not want to address. “I’m saying toMinister within the Natural Resources Ministry, Simona Broomes and Region 10 APNU Party Chairman Deron Adams during the visit to the hospital women, we have to have the strength to walk away…to find independence in ourselves,” she said.The Minister said while she understood that women may want to stay because of their children, children were not happy in abusive relationships. Often, she said, in these situations, the father ends up in jail and the mother dead, leaving the children behind. As such, she urged women to mobilise and draw strength in each other to break the cycle, noting that there was no excuse for the level of violence being meted out to Guyanese women.Minister Broomes noted that initiatives such as “Girl Power” were started in Linden to empower women. She pleaded with women to look for the signs of abuse, and urged them to be strong and not encourage such behaviour.“I still think as women, we need to put our bars and put it a bit higher…the question is, ‘are you going to stay there and die?’…the time in Guyana, it is sickening to see what is happening,” she noted, as she questioned, “Where are the voices of all the women organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations” at this time?“I want to move motions … I would really want to see us as women in Guyana raising the bar and pitching, not only pitching our voices but ensuring that we put an end to it, that we put a stop to it.”She said in some places women were abused by men, who were then charged by Police, but the women would refuse to give evidence against the men. In such cases, she said “maybe” the laws could be pushed so that men are charged regardless.The Minister noted, however, that she was happy that Magistrates were putting just sentences in place for perpetrators. “I want to continue to support the judiciary system and these judges that are taking control and looking at this matter and dealing with it in the way that it needs to be dealt with. That is a positive sign for me,” she said.Broomes further stated that she was appalled by the level of rape in society, noting that through the movement and via social media, many Linden women have reached out to her with regard to rape, which she said is an issue people are “covering up”. She called on leaders, Police and all sectors to play a part in making a difference, adding that a women’s forum is being planned for Linden. She also pointed to the need to ascertain the level of domestic violence and reports, as that would assist in pushing for various policies and institutions. The Minister also spoke on the issue regarding the Linden Town Week pageant scandal as she urged women to speak out and make reports.She opined that contestants should not be the ones to go out to seek sponsorship. “A lot of women have contacted me over this story also in Linden to say how many years it is happening. And so, at all levels in society and more so Linden, I think we got to come together to deal with it. I have engaged the church. We had a wonderful prayer session with women,” she noted, adding that she would be going back into schools to speak with girls.She said sessions were also being organised for men, through the ‘Be the one’ campaign, since they too needed to be heard. The Minister posited that a difference could be made with the help of all stakeholders.“I want to encourage the women that domestic violence is something you should not accept, speak out and get out; don’t compromise with it, don’t hold it, report it to the Police, bring it to the authorities and let us push for action,” Minister Broomes said.