Women's Issues In Guyana

Exploiting need and poverty – and real rape victims

Posted in Commentary by wiig on November 23, 2007
Tags: , , ,

Frankly Speaking A.A. Fenty

Stabroek News – Friday, November 23, 2007

…After the rape I had promised to return to the plight if genuine rape victims; the embarrassment, harassment and challenges they face – in society and in our westernized court system.

Then up came Tuesday’s Guyana Chronicle (Nov 20) stale-dated but still useful report of why two previously convicted rapists were freed on appeal. But what do real rape victims go through in societies such as ours – with its insensitivities, boorishness and doubts all mixed with disrespect for females?

Fourteen years ago attorney Josephine Whitehead outlined six fallacies rape victims are subjected to – from the myth that some females want to be attacked sexually to the sexy apparel they should not wear – which cause prosecutions to fail. Her summary is still so relevant.

She said: “The combined effects of the myths and fallacies and the rules are as follow:

Very few women who have been raped make a police report – this is even less surprising given the fact that at least one woman who has gone to the police to report having been raped, has been raped again by the very men to whom she has gone for help.

Those who do make a report find that the police are generally unsympathetic in dealing with the matter and make only limited attempts to find and arrest the attacker.

In the few cases in which charges are brought, the victim is made to feel as if it is she who is on trial, and the vast majority result in the accused getting off or being given a light sentence.

“The long and short of it is that nearly all rapists remain or soon go free to rape again, while their victims are left with the guilt and shame and the realization that rapists are not the only enemy. Experience in other countries has shown how difficult it is to change attitudes towards rape, but the government can, and should, lead the way by changing the law.”

How they go free Two convicted rapists are no longer rapists. The Appellate Court found that the judge did wrong or “unfair” things when directing the layman jury after all evidence was taken. The “higher judges” found that the lower (court) judge misdirected the jury with respect to burden of proof regarding consent; failed to give adequate direction regarding honest belief (the accused can claim he “believed” he had consent); the issue of corroboration and admitting evidence to show that one witness for the defence was a convicted crook and that the judge’s summing up was “unbalanced” – all led to the freeing of the two fellows.

Ah, oh, the law! It’s not even that the question of whether they actually raped was at issue. It was the trial and the rights of the accused! Oh well, those laws apply even it was my daughter who was raped. Or the Appellate Court judge’s little sister! Right? …

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