By Ralph Seeram
A world famous singer was coming to Guyana and a friend wanted VIP tickets for the show, and inquired if I can use “my connection through another connection” to get the ticket. I asked why VIP tickets; she explained that because of the kind of business she is in, it will give her an opportunity to promote and network her business.
The tickets were expensive; she admitted that she could get the tickets on her own, but unlike men, “If a woman asks a favour in Guyana you have to GIVE a favour. The meaning was clear. She had to exchange sex for the favor.
The sexual exploitation of women in Guyana is one of the suppressed secrets in the society, it exists, it’s prevalent, but hardly anyone speaks out about it.
Someone shared a song on my Facebook page, which prompted me to write this article. It was an old Calypso by Singing Sandra “Die with my Dignity” a song so relevant in today’s Guyanese society.
Sing on Sandra, “You looking out to find something to do, you meet a boss man who, to get to work, you have to go to bed with he, become a slave, second wife, and deputy. And as a next woman get on the line, he start to tell you you ain’t good you can’t wine.”So I was told of this story in Berbice where a junior married regional official employed a beautiful young lady with whom he is also having an affair. On a complaint his senior went to investigate. When he saw the young lady, he decides to cut in on the action. The young lady, to keep her job, now has to sleep with the senior also.
Sing on Sandra. “But when the man let down the condition, nothing else but humiliation, they want to see you whole anatomy, they want to see what you doctor never see, they want to do what you husband never do, still you ain’t know if these scamps will hire you.”
This is the type of behaviour that is so prevalent among men in power in Guyana, and it is not only by Government officials as some would only want to believe, but more in the business community.
From time immemorial men in position of power and wealth have always exercised their position to exploit women. Speaking to various women in Guyana the attitude seems to be “to get something, you have to give something”. One woman told me, “If I get this, I can get that”
Sing on Sandra. “Well if is all this humiliation to get a job these days as a woman, Brother they could keep their money, I go keep my honey, and die with my dignity!!
The problem is some women, especially single mothers, cannot afford to die with their “dignity”, when they have to put food on the table. The exploiter would have already known this. Obviously if she has to choose between her “dignity” and food for the kids, you know what the answer is going to be.
Sing on Sandra. “They want to feel up you navel and your breast, they want to see if you have lutuh on your chest, they think they can do you with the hand, like if they searching to find the Promised Land.”
Back in my days as a reporter in Berbice, you gain the trust and confidence of men and women in position of power. I was out with a very prominent person on the Corentyne, when he stopped at a residence. Before entering he cautioned me, “What you see here, leave here”. It was as Singing Sandra describes it, “second wife and deputy”.
I was shocked; this was a very outstanding member of the community. I would later come across so many similar cases of men in power exerting their position for sexual favors. Nothing has changed today in Guyana. It is even more prevalent than one may want to believe.
Sing on Sandra. “I am a woman who don’t make any skylark, before I slap them and they die of heart attack, they can keep their money I go keep my honey and die with my dignity!!
Invariably, most of these men go for a “young ting” and sometimes resort to Viagra to keep up with the young ladies. I know of an old friend and prominent businessman who “died in action in a hotel room”. Either the sex or the Viagra did him in.
Sing on Sandra. “It have a lot of women just like me, who might not be so well off financially, You need a job and you really need it bad, ah man decide to help, you must be glad, But if you value yourself as a woman, you will be demanding respect from the vagabond, Stand up to them and let them know the truth, is work you want you are no blinking prostitute”
So we come to the question, “What is being done to arrest this situation?” There is one organization that is prominent in the fight to combat the exploitation of women in the interior, especially in the mining community.
She does not seem to be getting the kind of cooperation she should have from the police and Government officials. As a matter of fact there are reported cases of where the very policemen are engaged in the same practice. So where can these women go for help?
Women organizations in Guyana need to take a more prominent role in the fight against the exploitation of women in Guyana.
Sing on Sandra. “You have a mole on you back they want to see, they want to see if you have marks on you belly, They want to know how much man you had before and if you are strong enough to take any more, I have me pride and I have me ambition, I want to hold up me head up high as a woman, So brother they could keep their money, I go keep my honey and die with my dignity!!
Ralph Seeram can be reached at email: [email protected]
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