Leaving the paedophiles among us
Kaieteur News
January 14, 2007

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On Friday, the courts were being asked to pronounce on whether a 13-year-old girl should be returned to her parents. But this was not the first time that this request has been made. In fact this matter has been attracting the attention of the courts for some time.

A 71-year-old man had been living with this 13-year-old girl as his wife for some time. In fact, this liaison was in place ever since the girl was 11 years old.

Last week, we addressed this issue and concluded that enough is not being done when it comes to enforcing certain laws. In the first instance, society showed that it was against grown men preying or thrusting themselves on children that caused the courts to raise the age of consent from 13 to 16.

Some wanted this age of consent to be raised even further, to 18, when someone legally becomes an adult in this country and all because a grown man had taken a 14-year-old girl to be his reputed wife.

Groups in the society picketed the courts, wrote countless letters in the press and staged forums. The Guyana Human Rights Association began to take a keen interest in cases of sexual assault and rape that went before the courts.

One cannot help but conclude that society has become apathetic to cases of sexual assault and child molestation because nearly every day the press informs of some such case or the other but there is not the expected protests outside whichever court the accused and the victim appears.

What is most revealing is the lack of police action in these cases. One often hears that the parents of the abused child would instruct the child to refuse to testify but in this case, the clear violation of the law should be enough for prosecution.

Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Priya Manickchand, said that her ministry has received six reports over the past two weeks about statutory rape. In one case a 10-year-old gave birth just weeks ago. This meant that she was molested when she was about nine years old.

Why was no move made to prosecute the father is beyond comprehension. The medical authorities who delivered the baby should have made a report to the police. They could have questioned the child and obtained the information.

A similar situation occurred in the case of the 13-year-old whose baby was believed abducted. Again, there has been no prosecution of the father as the law dictates. We shall not comment on the father who sexually molested his seven-year-old daughter, or on the case of the ex-policeman who molested twin girls who were three years old at the time. They have been charged.

But in other cases parents literally sell their very young daughters to grown men who are nothing but paedophiles. How these men could feel some sexual attraction for young children is beyond the comprehension of the ordinary person.

Take the case of the 71-year-old who had the gumption to use his money to procure the child from her parents. He left Canada where most certainly he would have been languishing in jail for paedophilia. The mother, probably a poverty-stricken woman, jumped at the chance to better her economic circumstances and offered her daughter who was no more than a child.

The man was clever enough to avoid attention by marrying the child according to Muslim rites. But there were those angry enough to report the matter and caused the authorities to act. They have the child who wants to go home to her parents but who is afraid because every time she goes home her parents shuttle her to this grown man.

There has been another marriage between a grown man and a child and this too is engaging the attention of the courts; but all too often there seems to be no move to enforce the law that would reduce paedophilia.

The police often tend to wait on instructions from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and quite often even when such instructions come down, the police do not act. This was the case of the 71-year-old Canadian man.

We have enough troubles in this land; too many mentally unstable people, and to submit very young girls to the trauma and possible mental damage is too much for this society to bear.