Women's Issues In Guyana


Rape

Posted in Crimes against Women by wiig on August 6, 2005
Tags: , ,

Stabroek News Editorial – August 6th 2005

A report in this newspaper two Sundays ago revealed that close to 100 females, mostly teenagers had been sexually assaulted for the year so far. Statistics garnered from all of the magisterial districts in the country only accounted for 50 reported cases, about half of the total. It was an interview with outgoing Chief Probation and Family Welfare Officer, Ann Greene that hinted at the real figure. Referring to the cases which her department had seen, Greene noted that the 50 would be doubled if all the women made reports. But she also noted that there would be cases that did not even reach her department, and therefore the figure could well be higher.

The statistics seemed to indicate that Georgetown had the highest prevalence of rape, when compared with other districts. But this may not be the case. Georgetown may just have the highest reporting figure. And it may also be the case that the figure in Georgetown is better known because it offers more in terms of services.

Rape is a crime of power and brutal violence, which is highly stigmatized not only in Guyana, but all around the world. It falls into the broader spectrum of sex crimes which include incest and sodomy and other forms of molestation, especially of children, which are also stigmatized and very often covered up.

It is also a fact that the smaller the community a woman lives in, the less likely she is to accuse her rapist or report it, particularly if the man is also a member of the community. And given the new trend, in which rapes appear to be the inevitable consequence of robberies, and the abundance of robberies that occur, it is entirely possible that the figure is even higher than close to 100. In fact, Ms Greene admitted that the true figure might never be known.

Coming on the heels of this, is the Guyana Human Rights Association’s (GHRA) just-released study, which indicates that only 1.4% of rape cases result in conviction for the accused. The report, ‘Without Conviction: Sexual Violence Cases in the Guyana Justice Process’ underlines the reason why the majority of rape cases go without being reported. While this is not only true of Guyana, it is an issue that must be grappled with.

Ms Greene had made a few workable suggestions which include training female police officers to better handle rape reports and having female officers available at all police stations to take reports. She also said that the court system needed to be more ‘victim friendly’, including video-taping testimony, which would allow some modicum of privacy. She also pointed to the need for education, and referred to the general breakdown of morals in society. Given the statistics available, these suggestions need to be taken on board sooner rather than later.

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