Recent remarks by Commander of the police ‘A’ Division Clifton Hicken on the issue of rape have created quite a stir,
following its publication in a certain section of the social media, which solicited some angry responses from sections of the society.
But the Guyana Police Force says it is standing by the Commander, claiming that his statements were taken out of context.
Speaking at a forum on Monday to sensitise the media about its crime fighting plans, ‘A’ Division Commander Clifton Hicken emphasised the need for young women, particularly those between the ages of 16 and 18, to embrace an attire that is morally accepted and not encouraging to potential rapists.
In making his informed deliberations, he alluded to the fact that the strategic efforts have seen the Force working closely with organisations including the Ministries of Education and Human Services as well as Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
“We are working assiduously not to just stop (these) problems when it happens but to prevent it from happening. We are speaking about somebody committing an offence (rape) and yet we are creating an atmosphere in terms of our society that seems to be the norm,” said Hicken as he alluded to the need for women to ensure that their attire does not encourage criminal activities.
Some sections of the media were swift to report on the Commander’s remarks on attire but failed to note that Hicken had prefaced his utterances by highlighting that the Police Force has not been working in isolation to tackle rape crimes.
It was through collaborations he intimated that recommendations to help tackle the surge in rape crimes were forthcoming.
“Rape seems to be on the front burner in ‘A’ Division now and this is something we are paying close attention to,” he said.
“When we are within our partnership programmes, we advocate for the young females who seem to be vulnerable within a certain age group…and we always try to embrace an attire that will be accepted morally and not to have yourself in an attire that would create this type of menacing look by the opposite gender. So that is a work in progress for us,” said Hicken as he disclosed that there was a hike in the crime in the month of September. He added though that the past month reflected a decline in rape crimes.
Hicken informed media operatives on Monday that some 50 females have already been the victims of brutal rapes, some of whom have died, for this year alone. Last month 11 persons were raped representing a 31 per cent increase when compared to last year’s statistics. In 2013, some 38 women were reportedly raped.
Details of Hicken’s comments are contained in a recording that Kaieteur News has made available online.
In defending the Commander’s position on tackling rape, the Police Force yesterday issued the statement below.
“Cognisant of an article published in the Stabroek News today Tuesday November 18. 2014, under the caption ”Police Commander under fire for blaming victims for rapes” and other media coverage of this matter, the Guyana Police Force wishes to advise the public that the Police Divisional Commander of “A” Division has been taken out of context. The Divisional Commander had no intention to, in any way, justify sexual assaults.
While the males in our society ought not to interpret a female’s mode of dress to be sending a particular type of signal, the fact remains that it is happening to some degree.
The Divisional Commander has a lot of experience which provides information arising out of interviews of suspects in sexual assault matters, as well as intelligence coming from discussions among elements of criminal groups regarding sexual assaults they would have committed. This occurs when such groups have been infiltrated.
In many cases the discussions would have suggested that the mode of dress of the victims may have contributed to the suspects’ selection of targets.
The Divisional Commander felt obligated to share that information as one of his crime prevention strategies focusing on sexual assault.
The Guyana Police Force supports the Divisional Commander in his crime prevention efforts, inclusive of sharing pertinent information, and wishes to reiterate that the Commander had no intention of defining moral conduct and that the statement was aimed totally towards crime prevention.”
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