Women's Issues In Guyana


Peeping Tom: Not the police

Posted in Commentary,Crimes against Women by wiig on July 10, 2006
Tags: , , ,

Kaieteur News – July 10, 2006

The young girls who were allegedly raped, seduced or drugged, and then forced into lewd sexual acts cannot be expected to simply present themselves to the Guyana Police Force for their matters to be investigated, as one senior police officer would like to happen.

What are the alleged victims going to do? – present themselves to a police station and report their rape to an institution that has not demonstrated the desired level of warmth towards rape victims?

How many of these girls are going to walk into a police station knowing that they risk being ridiculed or greeted with insensitive comments?

Our police force is not trained to deal sensitively with these matters. Their investigative capacity to deal with these types of crimes is poor. This has been one of the reasons why there is a reported high incidence of unreported rape in Guyana .

Recently, the Guyana Human Rights Association called attention to the plight of victims of rape in a report titled: “Justice for Rape Victims: Reforms of laws and procedures in Guyana .” It pointed to the appalling conviction rate for these offences, and called for a new strategy for investigating rape cases, one that would create a different culture within the police force to sexual violence. It also noted that in over half of the cases no investigations were pursued as rape.

As if to confirm the seriousness of rape within our society, there have emerged reports of a group of wealthy young boys forcing, inducing and blackmailing girls into lewd sexual acts and rape. Some of the alleged victims have been interviewed by the media.

The horrible stories that have been reported in the press must be investigated, and not just because of the economic class to which the young men belong. However, as this column has always insisted, there must be a credible basis for any investigation. This was the position this column adopted when a person of questionable credibility emerged and tried to link the then Minister of Home Affairs with death squad activity.

At the time, the Peeper argued that the public ranting of a man pained by the loss of his brother, unsupported by him coming forward to the authorities, could not be the basis to launch an investigation.

In this instance special circumstances are involved, since victims of rape are not easily persuaded or inclined to come forward, especially to an untrained policeman. Notwithstanding this, however, there is available photographic evidence which justifies an inquiry.

In light of the totality of the circumstances involved, the government must intervene and set up a special investigative unit, with broad-based and competent representation, to examine whether there is any truth to the claims of rape and blackmail.

The victims cannot simply be expected to walk up to a machismo police presence and report what has taken place. Even if they do, there is concern, as a recently released report has pointed out, about the poor rate of conviction of rapists, poor investigation and poor prosecution of rape in Guyana .

The current allegations present a golden opportunity for the authorities to demonstrate that the continued violation of our women will not continue as before. This present imbroglio should lead to one response, and that is that when it comes to rape and the sexual molestation of our women it is not going to be business as usual.

The current allegations present the opportunity for us to begin to reverse the poor rate of conviction and reporting of rape.

I urge the government to take this matter out of the hands of the police and to set up a special team to probe the investigations. I am sure that once this is done the victims who were lured into sexual acts by the group of rich rapists will come forward to give their side of the story.

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