Sterner measures needed against sexual abuses of children
Stabroek News
January 10, 2002

Dear Editor,

Recent news reports have put the spotlight on several reported incidents of sexual assaults committed on children and I am disgusted and saddened as I read the growing number of such sordid violations. We cannot afford to forget the cases of sexual misdemeanors committed on our children, as reported by SN, particularly during the latter part of last year: Kurt Brown, accused of committing the offence of buggery on a girl below the age of 12 somewhere in Albouystown during November; 27/10/01 SN: Leary Fraser, 32, a cattle farmer granted $1M bail accused of four counts of carnally knowing a female between 12 and 13 years old; 18/10/01 SN: Rupan Ganpat, called Ramesh, charged with raping an under-13 girl; Pete Stephens, accused of having carnal knowledge of a nine-year-old primary school student at Strand Cinema, Charlotte Street; SN 26/10/01: Terrel Lackhan accused of having carnal knowledge of a 15-year-old girl; Dutch citizen and Hindi tutor Ramlall Ganesh, accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old student at his Upper Corentyne residence.

My feelings of alarm were no different when I read of the sexual assault allegedly committed earlier last year, on a female student preparing to write the CXC exams, by the Principal of a well known educational enterprise on South Road.

Whatever happened to that case? The diligent and focused student incidentally became one of the nation's outstanding CXC achievers, but unfortunately legal justice still has not been forthcoming. Please - stop for a moment to consider the mental and emotional trauma inflicted on the victims of these assaults. How does a nine or thirteen-year-old with undeveloped social or emotional coping skills enjoy ordinary childhood pleasures when their innocence and sense of security are brutally snatched away by a paedophile? It is abhorrent that, in most cases, the abuser is an adult, known and presumably trusted by the victim. It is quite possible that we are becoming desensitized by the increasing reports of sexual violations, but worse yet, we may be feeling that this is something that happens to 'other' people's children. We are ALL accountable for the well-being of the children in our society.

What social and counselling resources are available to the victims who often have to deal with the emotional scars of the assaults for the rest of their lives? Are children being taught to confide in an adult if touched in an inappropriate manner, or are their voices stilled by the fear of being beaten, or rebuked by their parents if they reveal the facts of the assault? Are they in effect made to feel further a sense of shame and guilt as though they are responsible for the assault? And the offenders are allowed to resume their lives after serving a comparatively brief jail sentence, if they are brought to justice at all!

The state's Probation & Family Welfare Department, and NGOs such as Help & Shelter and Lifeline Counselling, as well as the religious bodies all can play an invaluable role in sensitizing the public on this issue. Further, teachers can benefit from workshops sponsored by the social service agencies, in helping them to identify students in their classes who may be exhibiting signs of physical or sexual abuse. The teachers can be made aware of what corrective steps they can take to help the child, and the parents, who in many cases are unaware of the abuse. The parents in turn must know what aid is available to them, whether in the form of legal or counselling support.

Perhaps the TV stations can, from time to time, hold programmes to educate their viewers. On the other hand, are repeat sex offenders counselled while imprisoned, to ensure that they do not repeat their crimes upon their release?

Sterner legal measures need to be implemented to send a clear message to potential offenders that our society will be totally intolerant of any sexual violations committed against our children and women. I hope fervently that these young victims will sooner rather than later receive the counselling, support and attention necessary to recover emotionally and spiritually.

Yours faithfully,

Beverly Conway