The critical issue is that an adult man had a sexual relationship with a thirteen-year-old girl

Stabroek News

June 5, 2004

Related Links: Letters on abducted 13 year old
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Dear Editor,

An article entitled 'Mother accepts partial responsibility' published on Page 12 of the June 3, 2004, issue of Kaieteur News cites me extensively, and often, wrongly. Since we would all agree that what is important is the well-being of the 13-year-old girl in the Reeaz Khan case and the protection of other young girls in our society, I am responding to the article not to 'fend and prove' with the reporter, but to clarify the key points I attempted to make:

1. I hope I didn't talk about single parent mothers being "devoid of proper parenting skills." This is not my view. My view is that as a society we are failing in our responsibility to children. I used the example of single-parent households where the mother has to go out to earn a living, cannot afford day-care, and leaves young children alone at home and vulnerable. And when, for example, these children set the house on fire, we are quick to say what a bad person the mother is rather than to see the mother as also a victim of a hostile social and economic system and to address our collective responsibility and guilt. There have been at least two recent tragedies of this kind.

2. I didn't say that Reeaz Khan is just a vehicle being used to bring this issue to the fore. I said that the Reeaz Khan affair is not the only case - there is general knowledge that there have been similar cases. But since this case has come to public attention we have a duty to use the opportunity to again raise - this time more effectively - the need to change the law so that children can be protected.

3. Red Thread doesn't have "plans" to provide counselling for Ms Bibi Hamid, the mother. This implies that we have determined that Ms Hamid needs counselling. Throughout the interview I tried hard to make it clear that our position is that at this point, we don't know what Ms Hamid did, though we have seen the allegations against her, and that what is critical right now is not to prove the mother guilty or partially guilty - that should be dealt with later. The critical issue now has to do with the undisputed fact that an adult man had a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl, that this deserves our contempt, and that the society must both move to the protection of the particular child and to the changes in the law that would improve protection for all children.

Yours faithfully,

Karen de Souza