Women's Issues In Guyana

A reluctance to enforce the law

Posted in Crimes against Women,Law Enforcement by wiig on April 23, 2007
Tags: , , ,

Kaieteur News – April 23, 2007

When the government moved to hike the age of consent the intention was to protect young girls from the so-called sexual predators. Some of the people canvassed for their views suggested that if a young man was involved with the under-aged girl then the law would be tailored to prevent him from being subjected to the same penalty as a grown up.

However, this has not been the case since no law is supposed to be discriminatory. All should be made to suffer the same penalty for the charge of statutory rape.

This law is now on the statutes but it is being observed more in the breach. Girls as young as 13 are still being impregnated and are still prone to sexual assaults but not many of the perpetrators are being hauled before the courts.

We now have the case of a 13-year-old girl who has reportedly eloped with a 20-year-old but there has been no prosecution for statutory rape. When the matter first surfaced, the police did arrest the male perpetrator but after holding him for 72 hours, they released him on station bail without pressing charges.  

This man has since disappeared and with him has gone the 13-year-old. The reports suggest that when the man was arrested the teen returned to her mother’s home but as soon as the man was released from the lock-ups she simply left with him.

The police have offered no reason why the man was not charged although he was caught in this illicit relationship. The girl’s mother is said to be at her wit’s end seeking the return of her daughter. According to reports she knows where her daughter is but she apparently has no influence of the child.

In such cases the society should act. Where the home fails the courts have the right to be deemed a parent and the child should be removed from the custody of her biological parents.

We have seen this before although the application of this law was erroneous in our view. At the time the law had not been amended but the courts intervened in the relationship because the girl was adamant that she was not prepared to live with her mother. It is of no consequence that the court subsequently relented and released the girl to her own wiles.

But there are other situations. Today we are reporting that there is a video of a similarly under-aged girl being involved in a sex act. The male is also a schoolboy but the law stipulates that he is guilty of statutory rape.

We have a law that allows electronic evidence in court. The recording of this sex act, which according to reports is being widely circulated, should be in the possession of the police for use in court. The Ministry of Education has already acted by suspending the girl and is conducting an investigation.

At the end of the investigation will the Ministry forward its finding to the police for prosecution? We think not, since the Education Ministry is often reluctant to place its young wards before the courts.

More and more it seems as if our laws are there for the benefit of the outside world because rarely do we apply them. We have a law on human trafficking and while there is overwhelming evidence of this continuing to be a common practice prosecution is a rarity.

There are laws against domestic violence but ever so often we hear reports of the police refraining to act in cases where men beat their wives. The excuse is that it is a domestic matter and that the police should not get involved. This is not to say that there are never prosecutions but the number of instances of the reluctance of the police to act is simply not good enough.

This past week we featured a woman who alleged severe beatings by her paramour and countless reports to the police, all to no avail. She reported threats but again there has been no condign action.

The man went to her home and threatened her with grievous bodily harm. She is of the view that had she not been holding her baby she would have been dealt a violent blow from a missile.

The eventual upshot is that the police are going to charge the man with damage to property.

And so we wonder whether our lawmakers actually wasted their time in crafting laws to curb some deviant acts. It is true that some young girls actually consent to the acts but since the law says that they are incapable of consenting they should be brought to book as well as the male partner.

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