In The News

Red Thread Speak Out

By Red Thread


Red Thread extends condolences to the families and loved ones of Josh Henry, Isaiah Henry, Haresh Singh, Prettipaul Hargobin, and joins those calling for an end to violence in our beloved Guyana.

We are organising a virtual speak out, Moving Forward Better, to bring Guyanese together to reflect on what living together means and requires, the need to listen, hear and empathise with each other. To disagree without insult and slander, viciousness and bitterness. To care for each other and to demonstrate that in our words and actions.

The virtual speak out will take place on Friday September 11, from 6-7:30 p.m.

It will be streamed live on our Facebook Page

Please join us.

Karen de Souza,
Joy Marcus,
Halima Khan,
Susan Collymore,
Vanessa Ross,
Wintress White,
Sherlina Nageer,
Alissa Trotz,
Nesha Haniff

In The News

CJIA sexual harassment scandal… Red Thread lends solidarity to victims with protest

By Kaieteur News Staff

In an effort to bring awareness to sexual harassment in the workplace, members of the Red Thread Association yesterday, staged a protest in front of the Ministry of Social Protection on Brickdam.

The protest was also done to lend support to the alleged victims of the CJIA sexual harassment scandal that has shocked the country.

On June 16 Kaieteur News reported that a worker at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Timehri, made a complaint to the management of that state-owned entity.
She claimed that a senior official at the airport sexually harassed her when she visited his office.

The worker complained to management and it was only recently after enquires that she was told that the matter was “addressed.”

A few days after that article was published, another former female staffer came forth with her disturbing details of sexual assault and victimization, which she endured at the hands of another top official of the airport.

Just one of the victims have made an official police report, but investigations are currently being conducted into the scandal.

Susan Collymore, one of the members of Red Thread, is calling for other women, and even men to speak out against actions of sexual assault committed against them in the workplace.

She said that she expects “from the protest that the perpetrators are brought before the courts, which would in turn mean justice for those who genuinely deserve it.”
“I think that this act of sexual harassment needs to stop. Employers should come forth and support victims who are harassed,” Collymore added.

The Red Thread member believes that the victims are going through a second phase of harassment by now being out of a job. “She is being victimized and jobless. How will she support her family?”

The woman strongly accepts that sexual harassment only happens because the victims are not considered high in the social class, and so they are perceived as helpless.

“All we can do is hope that policies and laws are implemented in the workplace so that issues like this can desist, and those laws also need to be stringent, not only at the workplace level but even at the enforces of the land.”

In The News

Red Thread on a mission to end Domestic Violence

By Kaieteur News Staff

Red Thread on a mission to end Domestic Violence

Red Thread is slowly moving to establish a systematic and holistic approach to addressing domestic violence in Guyana.  The group is currently finalising a report on its two-year project implemented through funding from the US Department of State.

Red Thread Coordinator Karen DeSouza

The project titled “Engaging communities for improved implementation of domestic violence laws” engages residents in five communities to provide leadership and transformative action towards adequately addressing domestic violence.

The aim of the project includes generating research that could drive policy and identify areas for training and technical assistance to improve the implementation of the Domestic Violence (DV) Laws. An integral activity of the project was to assess the efficacy of the police and judicial systems in addressing DV case.

Red Thread has so far assessed, organized and mobilized community monitors in the various communities who have been observing police and court practices as it relates to addressing the social scourge.

Addressing a conference at the Education Lecture Theatre (ELT), University of Guyana Campus on Friday, Red Thread Coordinator, Karen DeSouza, told the gathering, which included a wide cross-section of representatives of stakeholder groups that although the research is in its finalized stage, the main challenges remain to help the citizenry understand their role and how to overcome common attitudes towards addressing cases of domestic violence.

According to De Souza, in the course of training the victim blaming and shaming attitude mentality by members of public particularly those involved in law enforcement was the most common challenge.

She noted that Red Thread is continuing its work with the police and judiciary to develop a more effective approach to Domestic violence.

An important part of the research is monitoring the police and courts; and their response to such cases … And what we found is that one person got used to the fact there were monitors, there were more requests for monitors.
Admitting that addressing domestic violence is a gargantuan task, DeSouza noted that hopefully, the project could be seen as a different mould of work, hopefully, one, which is more sustainable.

“This is the last official activity in the project, even with the germ of an action plan; the police force has been very interested in the criticism, which were made and they are looking at how their operations can improve.

Similarly, the judiciary has shown interest in improving and demonstrating their commitment to enforcing the law and improving the situation of Domestic Violence in Guyana.”
Domestic Violence homicide cases are at an alarming proportion in Guyana. The state of affairs requires a multi-stakeholder response.

A number of governmental and non- governmental organisations have joined efforts to address the issue. Most recently, Suresh Sugrim, a representative of the Humanitarian Mission Inc., an overseas-based charity called on the Government to up the ante in providing safe houses for, which victims of domestic violence can find refuge.

Through the charity, Sugrim has been working in Guyana since 2005, conducted outreaches, particularly in Berbice, where donors build houses for families in need.

In The News

Red Thread protests Government’s salary increases

By Kaieteur News Staff

A group of about two dozen people picketed the Office of the President Thursday to voice their disapproval of the recent salary increases of Parliamentarians and Ministers of the Government.

Protestors on the picket line outside Office of the President.

Men and women under the Red Thread banner stood on Vlissengen Road with placards which made clear their grievances.

Red Thread member, Joy Marcus, on the picket line said that her group is highly offended by the 50 percent increase for government officials while public servants only received a mere five percent on their salaries in the recent budget.

“We don’t think it is right to tell workers that the country doesn’t have money to give more increases for public servants and pensioners yet (government officials) can give yourself and everyone else an increase.

“Public assistance persons only receive $6,500 a month while (government officials) are already getting a lot of perks and still they have raised their salaries. They gave the excuse that the officials must be paid for their “quality work” what kind or work is everyone else doing then?” Joy asked.

The women of the organization also said that they are “highly insulted” by the way the matter of the pay rise was dealt with. The lack of a public announcement about the pay increase was seen as a “sneaky” act by the administration similar to the ones they condemned during their time in opposition.

They were not amused by Minister of State Joseph Harmon’s uttering to justify the pay increase that government officials needed to be paid well so that they would not be tempted to “thief” like former Ministers.

The justification was seen as disturbing by the women’s group. It insinuates that Government officials cannot survive on $500,000 a month while “normal tax-paying Guyanese” are expected to survive on $6,500, $17,000 and $50,000 per month without any of the benefits enjoyed by government officials, they said.

Marcus expressed disgust. “We don’t get all these perks and allowances that they would get and we are the taxpayers.” She further argued that Government cannot say that they does not have money to give public servants a 20 percent increase but yet could find money to pay itself as much as 50 percent after just five months in office.

She said the group believes that by this unfortunate decision the government has betrayed the people who voted for them.

“We voted for them to rid our government of twenty three years of arrogance and now this government is doing the exact selfish thing. We too are quality people just like those in high offices and should be given the same treatment.”

She said that several other picketing exercises are planned for Office of the President and the Parliament buildings. “Its taxpayers’ money why are you taking so much from us and not giving us anything at all,” she said.

Ultimately the group was adamant that the government needs to review their position about the increases and they have to be a listening government for the people.

“You can’t only want us around elections time and after then you have no time with us, do what yah want and then come to us when you need us to vote again. We are the ones who put you there as a government to serve us not yourselves.

“Thief or tek all is money out of poor people’s pocket.”  The group’s contention is that Government should “raise public servants pay to decent rates first then we can perhaps negotiate.”

Member of the Red Thread women’s group, Karen DeSouza, also on the picket line said that the recent increase was a major misstep for the new administration even as the Government is believed to have contradicted themselves many times regarding the salary increases.

As a result, their rationalizations for the increase are being interpreted as a very negative sign for the future of Guyana under the David Granger-led administration.

“However they want to rationalize the increase, Ministers should have hung back until workers who have families to maintain were made comfortable before they made moves to increase their pay,” DeSouza stated.

The salary increases which caused public outrage came on the heels of the recently passed 2015 budget. The budget saw public servants receiving miniscule increases as opposed to what they were promised during the pre-election campaigning.

On August 5, 2015, Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman made claims that increases were not being considered for the immediate future in the wake of rumours of the salary increases. On September 25 however, Trotman’s claims proved to be spurious and placed him in an unfavorable position with the public.

Constitutional Commissioner, sitting on the Women and Gender Equality Commission, Nicole Cole expressed her disappointment in the party, especially Trotman and termed the increases as an abuse of the people’s trust.

“The same Minister who lied to us had the temerity to face us and tell us to trust them. How can we trust them when they would have abused our trust? They saw the public outrage when the matter was just a rumor and should have known it was too soon.

“They have backdated their increases to the first of July which means they were only six weeks in office when they issued themselves increases. The Government touted itself as being people centered, a people centered Government doesn’t look after their own self interests first. They put the people first,” stated Cole.

Several members of Red Thread shared the opinion that the Granger-led administration was just awaiting their turn in office to become what they termed “the fattest cats.” They claimed their belief of this stemmed from the party’s actions. When the party was in Opposition, they decried “fat cats” and cut several aspects of budgets as they regarded the former administrations spending as “shady,” only to attain office to do something quite similar.

Last week The Red Thread women’s group announced its intentions to stage a protest in front of Parliament buildings on Thursday.

However, the group decided to host two different protests. The protest which was to be held in front of Parliament Thursday was shifted to Ministry of the Presidency. The other will be staged October 22 when Parliament is scheduled to be reconvened.

“We know it may not change anything but we are not just going to stand idly by as they do what they want,” stated a member of the Red Thread organization.

In The News

Red Thread completes time use survey Amerindian women’s work burden heaviest

By Kaieteur News Staff,of%20the%20Red%20Thread%20Organisation

The Red Thread organisation has completed a ground breaking survey of women’s time use in several communities across Guyana with a view to among other goals, spur officials to value and measure unwaged work in official statistics.

In updating the media and other stakeholders on the project yesterday, member of Red Thread, Andaiye, explained that the project idea was born out of a decision taken at the 4th World Conference on Women in 1995, that unwaged work, which is mainly women’s work, must be measured and valued in official statistics.

The struggle for this agreement was led by the International Women Count Network (IWCN) and among governments, by CARICOM.

Andaiye however noted that apart from Trinidad and Tobago , no other Caricom country, including Guyana , has begun to implement the relevant clauses.

“This is in spite of the fact that the reason we led the fight among governments at Beijing for the recognition of women’s unwaged work was that during the preparatory meetings for Beijing, we made the analysis that women in the Caribbean carry a heavy burden of unwaged work, and that invisibility of unwaged work is a discrimination against women which fuels other forms of discrimination against women.

We said then that any campaign against poverty which does not begin with the connection between unwaged work and poverty is a campaign that will not make even a dent in poverty,” she noted.

The survey, which represents the first measurement of women’s time use in Guyana , was done by and with a purposive sample of mainly grassroots women across race in several communities. It was funded by CIDA.

The four women who conducted the survey are all employees of the Red Thread Organisation.

One of them, Joycelyn Bacchus, explained that the study which was conducted over a period of 15 months targeted women in Charlestown in Georgetown, Central Mahdia, Coop Farm and Campbelltown in Mahdia, Rising Sun, Bath Settlement, Number 40 Village and Number 41 Village in West Coast Berbice, Kara Kara and Constabulary Compound in Linden, Uitvlugt and Den Amstel on the West Coast Of Demerara and Buxton, Annandale and Better Hope on the East Coast.

Bacchus said the survey managed to achieve a good race\ethnic balance, with diaries completed by 37 Indo-Guyanese women, 31 Afro Guyanese women, 14 Amerindian women, 18 mixed women and one Portuguese woman.

“We were not attempting what people call a scientific study. We were pioneering a way for grassroots women to work with other grassroots women to record the details of the unwaged and low-waged work we do, which has been left out of the official statistics and is not considered by those with power when they make policies.

We went to women we knew of from the work we’ve been doing as Red Thread on the coast and in the interior. Since we were not setting ourselves to look at other women’s lives and not our own, we started by recording our own time use. Each woman we contacted did between one and three days diaries. We ended with a total of 151 days diaries from 101 women. Because this kind of survey has never been done before, it took us 13 months because there were many problems that had no previously worked out solutions. We invented solutions for people doing time use surveys in the future,” Bacchus said.

She explained that the majority of women who completed diaries were mainly housewives. Other occupations included self employment in the informal sector, domestic work, teaching, security guard work and small farming. In addition there was one each of a salesperson, bartender, cashier, counter clerk revenue collector, hairdresser, sex worker and a nurse. About half the women who participated in the survey were single women and grandmothers; the other half are women with husbands. The age range was from 17 to 70.

Another of the persons who conducted the survey, Halima Khan, said some of the problems encountered included overcoming hostility from some male partners, and working to build confidence in some women about the usefulness of the exercise as well as trust in how the information would be used.

“Once women started doing the diaries, we began to realize how much work we do and how essential our work is. In this way, the survey fulfilled its first aim.

It empowered all of us doing the diaries by enabling us to participate fully in defining work as we know it and producing information about work which is usually hidden and even treated with contempt,” Khan said.

She said it was realized during the survey that because women in the interior who are mainly Amerindians often have no access to running water or electricity, their work was hardest.

Khan said they met women who have to fetch water from as far as seven miles away to do their housework.

“In one Amerindian community we met a single mother – a widow with five children – the oldest is 8 years old and the youngest 4 months old – living in an open bottom house with what seemed to be a makeshift stage as their sleeping area and sand all around them,” Khan said.

The Red Thread Organisation says that now that the survey is completed, they will continue to work with IWCN to write up and publish a detailed report and the results, then immediately use them to seek recognition for the work of all women in the statistics and policy of CARICOM governments, and to urge officials to look at the implications of their policies and plans on women’s time use.

The organisation says, locally they will begin with the Poverty Reduction Strategy.

The organisation is looking for funding for their publication and also has plans of organizing a women’s anti-racist conference.

‘“ We intend to continue to use time use as a basis for developing understanding and communication among women of different race/ethnic groups of what we have in common as providers of unwaged and or low-waged caring labour, and what we are entitled to, can demand and together win as providers of this labour, on which the survival of the whole society and economy depend” Khan reiterated.