Women's Issues In Guyana


Runaway Mocha girls taken in handcuffs by cops to station – heads shaven

Posted in Culture & Society,Law Enforcement by wiig on July 20, 2007
Tags: , , ,

Stabroek News – July 20, 2007
By Zoisa Fraser

Two girls who are in the habit of running away from home were on Wednesday walked by police through the streets of Mocha in handcuffs and later had their heads shaven by someone as punishment for delinquent behaviour.

Residents of the East Bank Demerara community are upset over the police action as they consider that the girls who are cousins may be in urgent need of counselling.

Up to yesterday afternoon when this newspaper was leaving the area the girls were still being held at the Mocha Police Station and the policewoman who is at the centre of the dispute said that the teens were led through the streets and had their hair cut to “teach them a lesson”.  

Police Public Relations Officer Ivelaw Whittaker told Stabroek News yesterday that the two girls were missing since Sunday. He denied the allegations that the girls were “paraded” through the streets in handcuffs and their heads were shaven by the police.

He told this newspaper that the 13-year-old ran away from home in the company of a 14-year-old neighbour. This is the third time that the 13-year-old has run away from home, he said.

According to Whittaker, an aunt sent the 14-year-old girl to the shop to buy bread but she never returned.

He said that the two were later found in an unoccupied house in Nelson Street, Mocha clad only in their undergarments.

He stated that they were transported to the outpost in the area where they spent the night and were transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) juvenile branch, Eve Leary yesterday morning so that ranks could carry out their investigations into the matter.

On the allegation that it was the police who shaved the girls’ heads, Whittaker said that the teens were instructed to remove the braids they had in their hair by the 13-year-old’s great grandmother.

“They took it out themselves. No police didn’t shave their heads,” he said.

Whittaker said that after the girls were found, they had to walk to the police station and were handcuffed. He added that the girls were never “paraded” through the streets of Mocha. He said that after they were found they were allowed to put on clothes and it is suspected that they were involved in sexual activity.

Reports reaching this newspaper are that the two girls have been in the habit of running away from home for sometime now. Several days ago they left their homes and could not be found. A female police sergeant from the police station in the community reportedly found the teens, who are both motherless, in a house in the village with a group of boys. The boys were not arrested but the girls were, this newspaper has learnt. Stabroek News was informed that when the girls were found they were only dressed in their undergarments.

This newspaper was also told that on Wednesday after the two teenagers were found they were handcuffed and made to walk the streets of the village for all to see.

Later that day the policewoman reportedly used a pair of scissors to cut off their braids. Reports are that yesterday morning, the said policewoman armed with a stick forced the girls to sit on a bench at the side of the road while a barber lined and neatened their heads. The girls were made a public spectacle as several young boys stood nearby laughing at them. This newspaper was told that the girls were in tears.

At the station yesterday, several residents were engaged in a loud argument with the said policewoman. The two girls were standing behind the door at the counter and tears flowed from the 14-year-old.

According to the policewoman when the girls were found, they were in a terrible state. The woman said that she was trying to get in touch with the welfare department in Georgetown but that was not possible since the telephone in the station could not make out-of-area calls.

The policewoman also made accusations that the girls had been shoplifting in Georgetown sometime ago but the teens denied this.

She told this newspaper that she was planning to take them later in the day to the welfare department. She also stated that the girls were handcuffed because they move very swiftly.

Meanwhile an elderly woman who said she was the great grandmother of one of the girls said that the policewoman was only trying to punish the girls for their bad behaviour.

The woman said that yesterday the policewoman had threatened to lock them up.

The woman who was apparently in agreement with the policewoman’s handling of the matter told this newspaper that her great granddaughter would not change. The woman said that the girl was crying but that was only a show. She added that all along she was trying to avoid sending her to an institution for delinquent girls.

However a relative of the other girl was in total disagreement. She questioned why the children were treated that way and was almost in tears while this newspaper was at the police station yesterday.

A resident added that she believes that the best course of action was to take the girls to a welfare officer and then to a doctor. The woman stated that she did not know the teens but she was particularly concerned about their situation.

The girls told Stabroek News yesterday that they attend a Community High School on the East Bank. But when asked why they ran away from home they did not answer. The girls, however, did say that they did not like having their hair cut off.

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