There are reports that a 35-year-old man from West Berbice has been charged with raping and sodomising a nine-year old girl. It is alleged that the man was on bail for raping another 10-year-old girl and had also committed the act on many other girls of the same age group, with several of those incidents being settled out of court. The pattern of behaviour of the alleged perpetrator fits the classic profile of a “paedophile”.
While the meaning of the term is “one who loves children” the behaviour is hardly as benign as it sounds, since the typical paedophile is totally obsessed with having sex with the juveniles – boys as well as girls. Even though we have been inundated over the last few years with reports of this bestial behaviour, we are only glimpsing the tip of the iceberg. Studies in the US show that for every instance where the paedophile is apprehended for raping a child, there are at least a hundred acts that did not surface or were hushed up.
From anecdotal evidence of adults recollecting their past, the reality for the Guyanese is no different.
Paedophiles can be found in every demographic category: old, young, educated, uneducated, professional, non-professionals – and of all races, colours and creeds. Typically, however, the paedophile is male, single, seemingly fascinated with children – especially around puberty and targets shy, handicapped, and withdrawn children, or those who come from troubled homes. They work to master their manipulative skills and often unleash them on troubled children by first becoming their friend, building the child’s self-esteem.
While the new sexual offences bill before Parliament addresses some of the issues emanating from paedophilic behaviour they do so in a generalised fashion. We believe that the matter is serious enough to warrant specific legislation. Take the issue of bail: the above cited instance of an alleged paedophile committing sexual offences while out on bail is not the exception – it is rather the norm. This circumstance raises the larger issue of exactly how society is to deal with a crime that incarceration appears to have no effect in diminishing.
Because of the deep-seated nature of the paedophilic imperative, some in the medical community have begun to view paedophilia as a disease rather than a crime. They have amassed evidence that at least some violent and antisocial behaviour have genetic links and signposts, but have been unable to isolate a biological cause for paedophilia. In our view, it is a mistake to label a behaviour—even a behaviour with some biological and genetic determinants—a “disease” because it ultimately means abandoning the concept of volition altogether. To do so would place us on a very slippery slope – for if there is no volition where is the crime?
The repercussion from the activities of paedophiles reverberate so widely (as was explained above) that we need to even revisit the putative benefits of incarcerating the offender after conviction. In the developed countries, lifetime recidivism rates show that “rehabilitation” alone in jails have not been very effective for sex offenders, and we know that deterrence is unlikely when most offenders are able to “get away with” multiple acts before apprehension. Now it would not be practical from an economic standpoint to keep all convicted paedophiles locked up for life: the only treatment that works and is feasible is castration of male offenders.
While it may sound harsh, in an effort to stop male paedophiles, male child molesters have the option of being chemically castrated in several states in the US. “Chemical castration” is a term used to describe treatment with a drug called Depo-Provera – a common birth control pill for women – that, when given to men, acts on the brain to inhibit hormones that stimulate the testicles to produce testosterone. The only drawback is that the drug had to be administered monthly and may be counteracted. In Guyana, with so many of our beautiful children being exposed to these deviants, we propose that the procedure must be made mandatory on convicted paedophiles.
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