Sexual abuse on the increase?
Kaieteur News
July 25, 2004

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At least forty-six cases of sexual assault involving children, some as young as four months old have been engaging the courts over the past seven months, according to Kaieteur News’ records.

Most of the parents of the victims, who reported these incidents, claimed that the perpetrators were people they know.

So far for this year, Kaieteur News has reported on twenty of these cases in Georgetown, twelve from West Coast of Demerara, four from West Bank Demerara, eight from East Bank Demerara and two from the North West District.

All of the forty-six reported cases involved children under 16 years old with the smallest being four months.

The suspects comprised twenty-one family members, eight neighbours, a teacher, an employer, six persons who were considered friends, two minibus conductors and seven strangers.

In one case, a 30-year-old labourer of Middle Street, Pouderoyen, allegedly indecently assaulted a four-month-old baby.

After appearing in court, the labourer pleaded not guilty to the charge and was later placed on $30,000 bail.

In another report, a teenager was allegedly sexually assaulted at home by her foster father, while her mother lay dying in the hospital from cancer.

In that case, the 60-year-old foster father allegedly assaulted the young teenager three times a day.

After appearing in court, the man was placed on $55,000 bail.

And in yet another case, a 65-year-old man from Sisters Village, West Bank Demerara, was alleged to have sexually assaulted a five-year-old boy.

The man admitted that he knew the child but denied any sexual contact with him. He was placed on self-bail.

These matters are still engaging the attention of the court.

Speaking to Kaieteur News about what would influence persons to assault children, Dr. Godfrey Sears, a psychologist, said, “There are many factors that would make a person want to have sexual contact with children. There is a group called paraphilias. These persons are sexually aroused by objects.

However, they can be aroused by children whom they can also see as an object. However, those that are specifically aroused by children are called paedophiles. The behaviour of persons who are aroused by children can be hereditary and behavioural. In most cases, it is a combination of both.”

“In the case where it is hereditary, the offenders are usually over-sexed or have a high level of sex urges. On the other hand, where persons encompass this act as behaviour, it is a case of what they experience during puberty. If during puberty, a person has a high sex urge and have sex with a child, then they will want to continue having sex with children. However, this depends on if the experience was pleasant. As long as that experience was pleasant then that person may always want to relive that feeling,” the doctor said.

Speaking with this newspaper about the behaviours abused children would exhibit, a Social Worker said, “Some children, who are indecently assaulted, tend to be withdrawn while others may be very aggressive. Those who are withdrawn pull in to themselves and feel sorry for themselves.

However, those that are aggressive can lash out at persons for reasons they themselves cannot comprehend. At the same time, some tend to be suicidal. Others many turn to drugs and some may even continue having sex. Those who continue having sex may behave in a ‘don’t care’ manner.

That is, they have sex with anyone and don’t care who that person is, and at the same time will not get emotionally attached to anyone.”

“In many cases, persons who are assaulted may then have a huge problem with trust. They tend to trust no one,” the Social Worker said, adding that in cases where children are sexually assaulted at a tender age, they will remember the incident, however, only as a dream.

“They would not actually know that it happened to them but they see what occurred in their dream. That in most cases makes children believe that what happened to them is just a dream or nightmare.”

Speaking on the future of children who were molested, the Social Worker said, “Most persons who have been indecently assaulted feel exposed after the crime is over. However, there is a good chance of complete rehabilitation for children who are assaulted when they are very young, but in cases of teenagers who tend to feel sorry for themselves and have a whole lot of mixed emotions, it is difficult to predict. When persons have these kinds of reactions, it is difficult to predict their next move and worse yet, you are never certain what they will be or what strength they possess.”

Speaking with this newspaper about how the law applies in cases of child abuse, a Magistrate said, “I must point out that the maximum time for indecent assault is five years. However, a monetary fine can also be imposed. Over the last few months, there have been a large number of cases reaching the courts. When the matter is being heard, the children who are the alleged victims are allowed to testify.

However, it is up to the court to decide whether the child can give sworn testimony or not. In cases where the child is giving sworn testimony, it is also up to the court to decide if that child understands the consequences of his/her testimony.

In cases where the child is very small, for example about five years old, the prosecution’s case would have to depend on eyewitnesses and evidence to prove that the person who is being prosecuted did indeed commit the act. In many instances such cases are difficult to prove.”