Mother accepts partial responsibility
- as Reeaz Khan's saga continues
June 3, 2004
Head of the Red Thread Women’s organisation Karen De Souza says the time has come for laws to be enacted to protect children from exploitation in society. She also disclosed that her organisation plans to provide counselling for, Bibi Hamid, the mother of the 13-year-old girl embroiled in the abduction fiasco. In an interview with this newspaper yesterday, De Souza noted that a large number of single parent women are devoid of proper parenting skills but are taking care of children on a daily basis. “There are many single parent women who are not capable, financially or other wise, to take care of their children but are doing so and as such they are tempted to exploit the children in some form or another because they get swallowed up in their own need for survival,” De Souza said. She noted that this occurs almost all over the world, but is worse locally because of the dire economic situation.
Hamid’s recent statements to the media imply that she may have encouraged a familiarity between her daughter and Khan. Several persons have also questioned the numerous inaccuracies in the conflicting stories supplied to the media. Repeating a call for government’s prompt intervention in raising the age of sexual consent, De Souza said that cases such as this are common. She said this one has only gained publicity because it is being played up by the media. “Cases like this happen almost every day but are kept under wraps most times, and as a matter of fact, one report in the paper says that Hamid requested money from Khan.
If that had been paid we would have probably never had known of this one too. Reeaz is just a vehicle being used to bring this issue to the fore,” she said. She however noted that even if Hamid is guilty in any way, the emphasis at this time should be placed on her daughter’s protection whether it is from her mother or anyone else. “She is the vulnerable one in this situation and as such needs to be protected,” De Souza said. Meanwhile, Head of the Guyana Human Rights Association, Mike McCormack says he has not been privy to the real facts of the case since he has spoken with neither Khan nor Hamid.
He explained that the information contained in a release issued three days ago was garnered from the Stabroek News reports. He however issued the general comment that “children at that age need to be protected from predators whether they be parents or anybody else.”
Meanwhile, in an interview with Kaieteur News yesterday, the teen’s mother, Bibi Hamid, said she is experiencing a sense of guilt over the entire fiasco and admitted that she had contributed to the entire situation. “I feel like if I led my daughter into this whole thing because I was the one that took her into the car when he offered us the lift, and later on that evening accepted his dinner offer and then I allowed him to take us to his home to sleep.” Asked why she would choose to agree to sleep at the home of a man that she had known for less than 24 hours with her 13-year-old daughter, Hamid was at a loss for a proper reply.
Hamid also communicated that she is at a loss as to why she was not more aggressive in retrieving her child from Khan after her daughter failed to return following her first day of the work study programme at the businessman’s establishment. Pressed for a reason, she blamed her lack of education: “After the first day and the child did not come home after work study at Khan’s store, I went to his house the following afternoon to get her but instead I ended up staying over and sleeping. You see, I am not an educated person and didn’t know what to do.” She referred to another incident later, when according to her the girl was abducted by Khan from the Mahaica children’s home. On that occasion, Hamid said she made absolutely no effort for an entire week to have her returned.
This time, Hamid says the action was due to frustration. The woman said she was fed-up as she felt as though she was not getting enough assistance from the relevant agencies so she opted to do nothing. She said during this week, she was not aware of the whereabouts of her only daughter since she did not even check the store to see whether she was at work or if she visited Khan’s premises. She admits that her inaction is not in keeping with an anxious mother who is grief stricken over an only daughter’s disappearance.
In an effort to clear up the conflicting reports concerning the number plate of the vehicle that the minor went away in last Saturday, Hamid said that she has several licence numbers written on a paper and when speaking to Stabroek News, she mistakenly communicated the incorrect one. Stabroek News has reported that Hamid had conveyed that the vehicle (Jeep) number is PCC 3725. However in an interview with this newspaper the following day, a vehicle with a license plate bearing the number PEE 9269 was described. Yesterday, Hamid insisted that the number given to this newspaper is the correct one.
Reeaz Khan however told Kaieteur News that he owns a vehicle with the license number PEE 9269 given by Hamid. Khan however noted that the vehicle has been immobile for the past two week and the Harbour Bridge records could verify the last time that vehicle crossed the bridge. Hamid also still strongly denies ever having requested money from Khan but remembers receiving $20, 000 from the businessman after sleeping over on her first visit to his home where she went to retrieve her daughter. She also strongly denies that she has ever been physically abusive to the child but related how the child has insisted to the authorities that she does not want to return home.
She recalled with horror that after she was issued joint custody along with her sister of the child, the minor refused to speak to her or even be near to her: “The girl refuse to stay at me; I beg she but she say she want to stay at she auntie next door.” That action according to her is quite baffling since she never ill treated the girl. The saga hit the headlines of the Stabroek News two weeks ago after Hamid filed a habeas corpus writ in the high court restraining Khan and the Minister of Labour, Human Services and Social Security from communicating with or being in the presence of her child.
These reports reflected the statements of Hamid and according to Khan, he was never contacted by Stabroek News for a comment. Meanwhile, the Women’s Progressive Organisation, in a press release says one issue highlighted in this saga is the need for the age of consent to be changed from 12 years to 16 or 18 years. “We urge the government to treat this as urgent and to immediately have drafted, the required legislation. Had the necessary change been the law, the character of this case would have been changed,” the release said.