Nov 21, 2023 Editorial
Kaieteur News – According to the Guyana Police Force, there were 182 of rape reported up to November 13 of this year. Though 182 reported rapes represent an 11.6% decline from 206 in 2022, it is still an alarming number. Notwithstanding the decrease in reported rapes, this has to be frightening to a law-abiding society, especially the weak, naïve, and vulnerable in Guyana’s population.
We take this position just from what the numbers themselves say. Because 182 rapes reported in 11 months average out to slightly over 16 per month. What raises anxiety levels is that 16 rapes a month equates to a rape every two days. In a society as small as Guyana, this is shocking, when our women (mainly) are victimized and brutalized, and then stigmatized, which only makes their ordeal more agonizing. Some of these rapes are at the hands of strangers, others from those known and trusted. It is likely that some rapes are not reported, due to fears of being ostracized, or relationship with attacker, or worry about intimidation and more violence inflicted.
Another concern is that some rape victims are aware of the status of their perpetrator in local society, and refuse to come forward. It is felt that the pursuit of justice is a waste of time and energy, influencing victims to stay silent. Presently, a doctor is being sought by the police for the alleged rape of a Venezuelan woman, but he has disappeared. Several years ago, an ex-policeman was wanted for several rapes, and he eluded law enforcement for an extended period, before he was finally cornered and killed by police. The general perception in society was that the ex-policeman had protectors in the police, and they reached high. Still higher, a member of parliament was accused of rape, and that matter took on sharp partisan dimensions, with all Guyana shamed. The victim was made into a spectacle, which added insult to injury. Apparently, a huge sum and other inducements were delivered to the victim’s family to settle the matter.
Such a heinous matter may have faded under the weight of bigger developments in Guyana; however, what has stuck with citizens, though, is how money and power could be used to thwart the long arm of the law, and the (in)justice that usually follows. When a country with a population as tiny as Guyana’s stares at the statistic (and reality) of one rape every other day, the conclusion cannot be helped that one crime breeds another, and then with a flood of them being part of a pattern, given time. There is the sense that the law is ineffective and selective, and that one can get away with murder, which has been known to happen here. Whether murder or rape, or some other felony, there is disregard for what law upholds, because the perception is that the law itself is falling down. That is, the law does not apply to all, and when it is applied, there is unevenness that fuels the commission of more crimes of brutality against persons, of which rape is but one.
Blue-collar perpetrators look at their white-collar equivalents in high places here, and shrug off restraints. Meaning, the law lacks severity, and leaves much to be desired about vigor and fairness. When street level rapists know that there are those who have done worse than them, but get off scot-free due to reach and pull (or powerful protectors), then sexual violence against women is taken casually. The need to dominate and control, the right to pluck the fruits of power, when expressed in violent and criminal ways, spawns its own cottage industry of imitators. If they (he) can get away with doing that, then the odds of nonaccountability expand, because there is the belief that things could be worked out should a rape occur. In such circumstances, reported and unreported crimes (rapes included) multiply, regard for women and the young plummet, law and justice take a backseat. The leadership assaults and batteries that characterize the top (words, postures, attitudes) cascade down into regular daily fight to survive in one piece in today’s Guyana. It is a symptom of the moral and ethical decay that plagues Guyanese life at many levels.
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