Reeaz Khan saga continues
Mother sought lifetime deal for her daughter
- Fung-a-Fat …GHRA, civic organisations say laws inadequate
Kaieteur News
June 2, 2004

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A LAWYER for businessman, Reeaz Khan, Paul Fung-a-Fat, yesterday said that he and Khan met with Bibi Shameeza Hamid about four weeks ago to discuss the issue involving the woman’s 13-year-old daughter.

“She requested that Reeaz set up her daughter financially for the rest of her life and that Reeaz marry her daughter,” Fung-a-Fat said. “She said if this is done she would drop all opposition against him.”

Her comments were made even before she moved to the courts seeking a writ of habeas corpus to have her daughter returned to her. At the time, she was visiting a number of police stations and organisations because her daughter had opted to stay with Khan.

Khan has claimed that Hamid sought to extort half of his assets to drop the allegations she was making against him.

Hamid responded that such a claim “never yet happened” and was “totally wrong.”

Contacted, yesterday, on the issue, Murshid Wazir Baksh, the leader of the Guyana Islamic Trust, said he found it to be an affront to the Islamic community for the media to highlight and identify an issue involving Muslims because the individuals involved purport to be of the faith.

He said: “It is outrageous the way they brought in the Muslim religion into this. People from other religions have committed acts of this nature. I am not saying that what is reported about this issue in the newspaper is untrue. That is for the court to decide. But why highlight this case? Why not highlight the others?”

Murshid Wazir said Muslims have a position on such issues as the one being highlighted, but did a section of the media “focus on one individual?”

He added: “We wonder at whether it is a deliberate act to paint Muslims this way.”

Murshid Wazir said Islam is totally against sex out of marriage. He said that under Islamic law, such action would warrant capital punishment.

The teachings of Islam seek to uphold the moral virtues of society, he said, and the recommended action is seen as a deterrent.

“We call on all Guyanese, religious and non-religious, to work together to protect our women-folk, to help them to realise their full human potential,” Murshid Wazir stated.

Karen De Souza of Red Thread said that her organisation has no verifiable information of the accusations made by Khan in yesterday’s Kaieteur News. She stated, however, that Red Thread found it “very wrong” for an adult man to be going out with a 13-year-old girl, even if her mother was abusing the girl. “We have to find the means to protect all children. If the indication is that the laws of Guyana are inadequate then they will have to be changed,” she said.

Given the new developments and not being acquainted with all the facts of the matter, De Souza said the primary concern should be the well-being of the girl.

“A 13-year-old could be seduced in various forms, including sex. It is up to society to set up systems to ensure that children are not exploited.”

De Souza pointed out that even if the allegations against Khan are proven to be true, all that could come out of the issue is to say, his actions are morally wrong because the laws are “criminally inadequate.”

She also criticised the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security for not being able to provide proper protection for the girl.

Red Thread, Help and Shelter, Guyana Association of Professional Workers, Women Across Differences, Women Against Violence Everywhere, Guybernet, The Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana, Guyana Organisation of Indigenous Peoples, and National Amerindian Development Foundation issued a joint statement, yesterday.

The organisations said the central concern to them is the protection of the girl.

They called on the government to act immediately on the recommendation of the Bernard Committee to raise the age to consent to sixteen years for sexual relations with adults.

They also urged the immediate implementation of mechanisms such as the Family Court and related child services to ensure the widest scope for child protection.

The groups also urged that the Constitutional Commissions on Women and Gender Equality and on Children be speedily appointed.

They demanded that Parliament prioritise legislation that guarantees the broad protection of children and the specific protection of children and women who are victims of sexual abuse or other gender-based violence.

Contacted yesterday by Kaieteur News, Guyana Indian Heritage Association’s (GIHA) Rhyaan Shah, refused to comment on the issue.

Shah, however, said that she would have to speak to Hamid and her lawyer before a comment can be made, given the new developments in the issue.

The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA), too, came out with a statement saying that the draft Bill on Children has been in the making for ten years and is yet to become law.

The GHRA said there has been a failure of the law to protect poor and vulnerable people, lack of judicial vigour, and weaknesses of the child welfare services, religious indifference, and ministerial sloth with respect to law reform.

Meanwhile, Bibi Shameeza Hamid, the mother of the 13-year-old girl involved in the saga with Reeaz Khan, has admitted that she visited the businessman’s home on several occasions but she said that this was only to try to get her daughter back.

“I was only going to his house because I wanted my daughter back,” she told Kaieteur News yesterday. “I was running around to get the girl back.”

Bibi Shameeza Hamid said that several photographs were taken during the visits to Khan’s residence.

She said that she saw the photographs that appeared in yesterday’s Kaieteur News.

According to her, the one showing the three of them having dinner was taken in a restaurant at which Khan had stopped when they had gone out after one of her visits to his residence.

She could not recall where the picture of herself, daughter and Khan showing them in front of his vehicle was taken.

Another photograph in yesterday’s Kaieteur News was taken when Khan and Hamid’s daughter was in Barbados on a three-day trip beginning April 10.

He claimed that Hamid was supposed to go on the trip. But Khan and her daughter later decided against Hamid accompanying them. He said that she even bought clothes and dressed her daughter for the flight.

Hamid said she was unaware that her daughter had left the country at the time.

She explained that she was hospitalised during that period due to a nervous breakdown.

But Khan asserted that Hamid was taken to the hospital because she had ingested a poisonous substance after he rejected her solicitations for financial and other favours.

He said when he found out that she drunk poison; he went to her assistance so that she could receive medical care.

Hamid refuted the statements made by Khan in yesterday’s Kaieteur News that she had agreed to her daughter’s overnight stays at his residence.

She also debunked the statement by Khan that she, too, had stayed at the businessman’s house for several days.

According to her, she only overnighted on one occasion. Khan is maintaining that Hamid consented to her daughter being at his residence but changed her position because of favours he refused to grant to the mother.

The businessman said the whole episode is an unfortunate one because he did not know the girl was 13 years old when they met. He said that he was deceived by her physical appearance. Khan said it was not until he had seen her birth certificate that he realised she was so young.

Khan and the Minister of Labour, Human Services and Social Security have been restrained by a High Court order issued by Justice B.S Roy from communicating and from being in the presence of the girl.

The order was issued on May 20, after Hamid filed habeas corpus proceedings against the two parties for her child.

After the police had completed their investigation and referred the case to the Ministry, the latter had recommended that the girl be placed at the Mahaica Children’s Home.

The teenager ran away from home twice after her mother had gotten her back there.