Women's Issues In Guyana


Some 100 rapes so far this year – only half of all cases reported

Posted in Crimes against Women by wiig on November 24, 2005
Tags: , ,

By Nigel Williams
Stabroek News – July 24th 2005

Close to 100 women, mostly teenagers, have been sexually assaulted for the year so far, but less than half of these cases have been reported to the police.

Official records at all of the magisterial districts revealed a total of some 50 rape charges to date for this year. But outgoing Chief Probation and Family Welfare Officer, Ann Greene said the real figure would be almost double that number, as there were many cases where the victims only approached the probation office and others where they sought neither counsel nor justice. Greene added that there was also a number of unsolved cases in which suspects either skipped the country or went into hiding or where the victims declined to give evidence.

Additionally, the courts have recorded some 12 cases of indecent assault; a crime which Greene said was even more prevalent than rape, ten cases of reported buggery/ sodomy and two cases of incest. The statistics also show that in more than 70% of the cases of sexual assault, the victims were female below the age of 18 and these were committed by males above the age of 30.

Also alarming, based on the statistics, is that sex crimes are more prevalent in the city. Georgetown alone had over 30 cases of rape for the first six months of this year.

Of the six gang-rapes reported, four of them occurred in the city. And based on the statistics teen rape is more prevalent in Georgetown than anywhere else. Teenage schoolgirls are also raped by minibus drivers and conductors who would drive away with young women and then assault them in some abandoned house or at homes manned by their friends. This newspaper has also discovered that a few of the teenagers had some form of relationship with the men, especially minibus operators.

Earlier this year, two minors and a 48-year-old woman endured one hour of sexual assault at the hands of four armed bandits at their Albouystown home.

The minors aged 11 and 16 and the 48-year-old were raped at gun point on February 18 by four bandits who were described as cocaine addicts. The victims in this case were all asleep when the bandits struck around 3 am. The rapists forced their way into the homes and demanded money from the 48-year-old. When she did not have any to give them, one of them told her he would take it in flesh. It was reported that the men cut off the woman’s underwear with a knife and took turns at raping her. The men dealt with the minors cruelly hitting them during the ordeal.

Police have not been able to apprehend anyone in that case, although the culprits were identified.

In the month of January, there were reported cases of rape on five days: January 5, 11, 15, 19, and 25.

February 1, saw a minibus driver and his conductor accused of raping a schoolgirl and then on February 7, four men allegedly raped a young woman. There was another reported case on February 15.

On March 4, a 12-year-old girl was raped allegedly by her relative. March 7 saw four men accused of gang-raping a teenager. On March 9 and 17, there were two reports of carnal knowledge.

In April, there were 13 reported sex crimes throughout the country. Between April 8 and 11, there were three cases of rape. There were also cases on April 12, 13, 15 and on April 19 when three men allegedly gang-raped a teenage girl. The trend resumed on April 20 and continued on April 25, 26, 28 and 29. On April 29, two persons were allegedly raped in separate incidents and in the same month, there were at least three armed robberies where the bandits sexually assaulted their victims.

In May, there were five reported cases on May 3, 9, 12, 17 and 24. On May 24, a 14-year-old was allegedly raped by another minor. On June 10, a woman was allegedly raped and sodom-ised and on June 17, three men gang-raped a woman.

On June 20, three counsellors of the New Opportunity Corps located at Onderneem-ing, Essequibo were charged with repeatedly raping a teenager between August 1, 2004 and January 31, 2005. That matter is still engaging the court.

On July 17, a taxi driver allegedly had carnal knowledge of a 22-year-old woman. He was charged on July 20.

Of the reported rape cases, nine occurred in the West Demerara Magisterial District which covers West Coast and West Bank Demerara. Christianburg Magistrate’s Court, Berbice and Corentyne combined had another five cases. East Demerara had four and Essequibo two.

Commenting on the situation, Greene told Stabroek News that apart from statutory rapes her department had a few cases where husbands raped their wives. Asked whether there had been an increase in sex crimes, Greene said not necessarily, but added that society has become more open with more channels through which victims can speak out.

She said this was one reason for the increase in reported cases.

She said in most of the cases the victims knew their attackers. “But a lot of the cases among adult women occurred with their ex-lovers in relationships which went sour,” Greene said.

On the issue of stemming the tide, Greene said one had to find a way of getting the victims to speak out. She said most of statutory rapes were in-house incidents where a father or brother rapes his relative. She said many of the victims in those cases were usually coerced to stay silent, while others are fearful of the media attention and sometimes turned off by the police handling of the matter.

Because of this, Greene said, there was a greater need these days for female criminal investigators. She observed that many times male detectives are insensitive to the victims’ feelings and this prevented many of them from reporting incidents to the police. Another issue Greene spoke of was the court system which she said had to be “friendlier” to victims. She opined that testimony by victims should be done in camera and then taken to court. She observed that some of the victims at times broke down during cross-examination by attorneys. “Because of all of these things many victims only go as far as the Probation office get some counselling and that’s it.”

She said some would not even bother to tell anyone.

Greene insists that minibus operators must take their eyes off the schoolgirls and called for greater respect for women in television advertisements and music. She felt too that women’s dress styles and the general breakdown in child training and parenting had to improve.

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