Guyana should provide the full range of rights to its children

Stabroek News

May 30, 2004

Related Links: Letters on abducted 13 year old
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Last night I was discussing the Reeaz Khan affair with my wife and her response was "that girl is just one year older than our son. My God what is happening to Guyanese?"

Indeed what is happening to Guyanese when there cannot be a groundswell of protest against the kind of conduct displayed by this businessman; against the police for not taking immediate, drastic action; and against officialdom for not roundly and soundly condemning such an action and making it pellucidly clear that abduction and defiance of a court order do have consequences.

There should be no extenuating circumstances for an adult to have an affair with a child, which is what a thirteen-year-old still is. Sec-ondly, I have been a teacher all my life. And I am quite familiar with both schools of discipline - in Guyana I did use the whip because I did not know any better. Here in the US I have learnt not only that the whip is unnecessary, but that there are many other ways to exert discipline and coax students to give of their best. In fact, I have become so good at that, that I can go into any class in my school (including special education classes) and display effective management.

How are these two issues connected? They both relate to children. And they both fit into the traditional belief system that relegates children to the category of 'being seen and not heard' - in other words of not being entitled to their full range of rights, contrary to international covenants and regulations. Is it not time that Guyana take steps to provide the full range of protection to those who need it the most? How else can we ensure that the leaders of tomorrow are brought up in an environment where they imbibe respect for others because they are accorded the same; where they understand love and caring concern because they would have experienced their potency; where they know that an

individual is entitled to full protection under the law because that would have been their reality and where they can eschew violence and denial of individual rights because they would have known that such is anathema to society?

If one measure of a society is a function of how its children are treated, then Guyana has yet to span that measure. But that can only happen when all of society takes exception to the behaviour of a businessmen in relation to a thirteen-year-old, to flogging as the epitome of discipline in or out of school and to mistreatment of our children in any form whatever.

Yours faithfully,

Annan Boodram