In Guyana, the raping of children is rampant, especially in the interior regions of the country, but this seldom makes the headlines. In a number of cases, some of these rapes are committed by male family members who prey on their innocent young relatives to fulfill their sexual desires.
We were disturbed by the recent revelations that two girls were raped by adults in the interior and are now pregnant. Society should not tolerate such behaviour.
It is time for parents to be aware of the dangers facing their children and every effort should be made to protect them. It is also important for parents to have frank discussions with their children about sex, abstinence, birth control and drugs. They must warn their children not to allow strangers or family members to seduce them or lure them into having sex in exchange for money or gifts. Some predators will go to great lengths to take advantage of children in order to satisfy their sexual appetite.
Many parents are trying to raise their children in the best possible way they can, but there are some men in society who would not keep their hands off underage children. These individuals have no respect for the law and will lure innocent children into compromising situations. This type of sexual proclivity cannot and should not be allowed, and punitive measures should reflect the non-tolerance.
Everyone must speak out against the reprobate individuals who continue to commit some of the most degrading sexual acts with young children. While the public outrage over sexual offences committed against children is justifiable, it is disturbing that for too many years very little has been done to curb such abuse.
The increase in these heinous crimes should be an obvious concern for the government, especially the Ministry of Social Protection, which is charged with the responsibility of protecting children. The people will welcome a reduction of such perverted acts, but it will take time.
The situation calls for intensive activism on the part of civil society and the communities as a whole, as well as for more collaboration with law enforcement. The goal is to protect children and to ensure that justice is served; that the perpetrators are caught and made to feel the full brunt of the law.
In dealing with crimes against children, especially rapes, the statistics are discomforting, as more than 100 cases were reported in 2014. It is well known that rapes against children are vastly under reported in Guyana, because family honour prevents victims from reporting; and rape is still considered taboo, too shameful to be made public. Poverty also impacts both the under reporting of rape and the conviction of rapists. In some cases, families are bought off after being intimidated, especially if the rapist is politically connected or comes from a family with status, wealth and influence.
This is made worse by the fact that the conviction rate for the rape of children is abysmally low due to the lack of rape kits at the public hospitals, flimsy evidence, shoddy prosecution of cases, reluctance of victims to give evidence to the police and the discontinuation of cases due to the unwillingness of victims to pursue.
To be fair, in less than nine months, the Ministry of Social Protection has made significant improvement in protecting children, but more has to be done. It is the responsibility of everyone in society to play a more meaningful role in the lives of our children and stop seeing sex, money, earthly possessions, reveling and drugs as the answers to the ills in society.
It is time to grab the bull by the horns; it is time for the predators to be prevented from luring children into illicit sexual acts.
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