Women's Issues In Guyana

Still photos appeared to be consensual sex – Minister Shadick clarifies

Posted in Crimes against Women,Politics by wiig on July 26, 2006
Tags: , , ,

‘Ministry has not turned blind eye to pornography reports’

Stabroek News – July 26, 2006

Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Bibi Shadick, maintained yesterday that the two still photographs which she saw during the uproar over an alleged rich men pornography ring appeared to be of consensual sexual activity.

The minister called a press conference yesterday to publicly “clarify” a statement attributed to her in a Kaieteur News report in connection with reports of girls being drugged, raped and then photographed which has drawn widespread criticism.

The minister told the media yesterday that two words were taken out of a statement she made to misconstrue what she said. The newspaper, among other things, said the minister had said that the girls who claimed they were drugged and raped by members of a pornographic ring appeared to be willing participants.

“What I saw seems to be voluntary sexual activities,” the newspaper quoted the minister as saying during an interview.

The minister, noting that she had come under severe criticism, said she has not allowed it to move her. She also said she never spoke to that newspaper. Rather, she did an interview with the television programme Prime News on trafficking in persons, during which the question was asked.

“What I said is that I saw two still photographs which had allegedly appeared on the internet and in the absence of any other evidence or information it seems to be consensual sexual activity,” the minister said yesterday.

She said two words were taken out of the entire statement and were blown out of proportion.

Questioned whether after careful consideration it would appear that her statement was a bad choice of words, the minister said she would not agree, adding that the statement was misconstrued and questioning how else it could have been said. She said no one looking at the two photographs could determine whether the girls had been drugged.

She said she was sorry that her statement was taken out of context, adding that it was unfortunate considering all the criticism it generated. There were numerous letters in the media referring to the minister’s statement and according to her one letter writer even reported that she said it appeared as if the girls were enjoying the sexual act. She said she even received a call from someone who offered to drug her so she could feel what it felt like to be in such a state.

There were reports that the minister was related to one of the alleged perpetrators in the porn scandal and when asked about this the minister responded in the negative. She said she knew who “both of the young men” are and neither one was related to her.

Meanwhile, the minister said that prior to doing the interview with Prime News no one had reported to the ministry on the issue. But yesterday she revealed that persons have since reported it and someone has even given a statement to the police, which she has seen.

“Further I will say no more,” the minister said.

The minister said she has not seen the local pornography video dubbed ‘Guyanese Girls Gone Wild’, copies of which were seized by the police from persons who were selling them.

And in a statement from the ministry read out at the press conference it was stated that consequent to reports received by the minister and those in the press on matters related to rape, pornography, the use of illegal drugs and the distribution of pornographic material, the minister has taken several steps to address the situation.

The steps include the ministry pursuing the matter with a view to determining the nature and extent of the activities; working closely with the police to ascertain the identity of persons involved and whether the circumstances necessitate recourse to any criminal or other legal course of action; and collaborating with the police to ensure confidentiality of informants and disclosures made on the issue.

“[The ministry] has not turned a blind eye to the reports of rape, pornography and the use of drugs and recognises the need for the sensitive treatment of this issue. Most importantly, the ministry is willing to collaborate with all agencies to arrest this practice and to protect our young women from this assault on their right to a life free from sexual or other forms of violence,” the statement said.

The minister also clarified statements attributed to her also in Kaieteur News where she allegedly said women should be charged when their teenage daughters got pregnant.

The minister said someone whom she knows very well and had worked with when she became minister and had great respect for had written a letter to the newspapers alleging that she had said that when teenagers get pregnant their parents should be charged.

The minister said she never made such a statement, what in fact she did say was that when parents are found guilty of exploiting their children sexually they should be charged.

She gave the example of her ministry having to remove a 13-year-old from her mother’s care adding how traumatised the child was from what she experienced at home. The child has since been placed in a new school and home but they keep getting calls from the mother who says that the child’s husband, who the minister says is an adult, wants to come and see her. She also posited that there are cases where children are sexually molested or raped and the police are involved, but then the parents, after receiving money from alleged perpetrators, no longer want the police involved.

“What happens to that child? Why should we overlook the exploitive activities of the parents?” the minister questioned. And she pointed out that such situations don’t always arise out of poverty while adding that her ministry has done a lot in the area of helping those in financial need. She gave the example of a mother who sends her daughter every day to school and at nights sends her to sleep with a businessman resulting in the mother receiving $20,000 at the end of each month.

“Taking my statements out of context is making a mockery of my ministry,” the minister said. She added that she is always accessible to the media but the problem she has is with media houses which publish stories then ask for a comment on what they would have reported.

Meanwhile, persons who would like to report acts of sexual exploitation to the ministry can call telephone numbers, 227-4062 or 227-4063.

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