Who spoke for the Voiceless during Sexual Violence Awareness Month? – By Yvonne Sam

Who spoke for the Voiceless during Sexual Violence Awareness Month?

By Yvonne Sam  

Dear Editor,

I am writing this article on behalf of the young, voiceless victims of rape/ sexual assault, who were never believed when they told their story, were further punished by the adult, threatened with harm by the perpetrator(s), and who continue to be sidelined even during the month set aside for evoking public and governmental awareness.

Sexual Assault Awareness month recently concluded in Guyana. Throughout the entire 30 days there is a heightened focus on awareness of sexual assault, domestic violence, along with governmental agencies making determined and concerted efforts to inform the public about sexual offences and domestic violence, and to help eliminate this scourge that is currently ravaging the land.    

According to Akilah Dorris, Manager of the Sexual and Domestic Violence Unit, the Ministry of Social Protection, is currently reviewing the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Acts, with the aim of better handling of domestic violence cases and sexual offences.

While I am aware of the activities, deeply appreciative of the nation’s efforts to raise awareness, and the continuous promotion of prevention; nevertheless it is becoming glaringly apparent over the years that the message has become somewhat misdirected. There is a lack of focus on the child.  This is not to downplay the havoc being wreaked by domestic violence, but the children also need to be focused on.  Case in point being the recent sentencing of pastor Josiah Baptiste

for the raping of a six year old female. Quite clearly he was not only preaching but reaching. Preying on the voiceless vulnerable.

Sadly there are not enough conversations about what that child should do, to whom should that child turn, and where does that child rests those worries, fears and anxieties.

The villages remain steeped in silence and choking on its own complicity. Child sexual abuse is a pandemic with its own staggering statistics. Most villages have a history of being silent about the abuses that wreak havoc on the young, of being protective of the family or family member(s) for several reasons—fear and shame being two of the most prevalent. In addition we dwell in a society that send signals and teaches the females to be careful not to get raped, instead of teaching men not to rape.

Casting all humour aside, in a1999 film Bigger and Blacker comedian Chris Rock tells a joke about every black family having that one molester uncle. In the comedic routine he further pokes fun at the practice that many Black folks have experienced, in which an older family member cautions about leaving children around a particular family member on account of that relative’s predacious tendencies. Rock also jokes about the child being blamed once the uncle molests him because the child was warned to stay away from that uncle, and the child being told by a parent to “walk it off.” Sexual abuse is one of the few crimes that bring more shame to the victim than the offender. I do inwardly shudder to think of the number of people who could directly relate to that scenario. Let us not forget the age old maxim” Many a true word is spoken in jest”, or to coin a familiar Guyanese adage “True word does pass as joke”. When the victim speaks we must listen, or be cued in even when nothing is said.

Undoubtedly, there is an ongoing problem in the Guyanese community that enough of us are not talking about, and one which usually rests below the radar during Sexual Violence Awareness Month.  Sexual Awareness as well as Domestic Violence Awareness does not stop on April 30.  I strongly beseech folks in the community, this month and next month, and every month thereafter and at every available opportunity not just to pay attention to numbers but to start conversations.  It is clear that revision/ reviewing of the Act is long overdue. Better late than never is not an acceptable panacea. According to Karl Marx, social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex.

Over the years the increase in frequency, and mortality due to domestic violence should have spurred the government into action a long time ago.  Wives have paid with their lives. Do not get me wrong, but irregardless of their gender every day a child is sexually tested and molested.  This must cease forthwith.  It is imperative that the Government, parents, the community,  community leaders, religious leaders, educators and by extension the public make an intelligent investment in a better national future by sounding the alarm for the young females,  until they can do so for themselves.  The voiceless must be spoken for.  Childhood simplicity is not tantamount to sexual complicity.

Yvonne Sam.

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  • Janet  On 05/03/2017 at 6:06 am

    A very enlightening article, I have been a victim and was too scared to speak out. Frightened that no one would believe me. Now i will speak out. The perpetrator and child molester was a lawyer named Jai Narine Singh, now dead. I feel guilty that I did not have the courage to speak out when it happened, I was only 14 years, and my mother was ill. I was easy prey.

    • Mango chutney  On 05/03/2017 at 10:59 am

      Very sorry Janet to hear of your sadness. I have met vulnerable Guyanese women who were abused and groomed by their relatives but we’re called liars by their own family

      Good for you for speaking out, you are a brave woman

      • Micky  On 05/03/2017 at 11:01 am

        Yvonne, sad but very enlightening article. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

      • Destiny child  On 05/03/2017 at 2:09 pm

        Always said that there was a lot of dutty educated guyanese men out who are paedo. They hide behind religion stupid wifes who know what their husbands are doing and big jobs. Don’t worry these f riggers will rot in hell

      • Micky  On 05/03/2017 at 3:24 pm

        You mean stupid wives!!!

      • Mango chutney  On 05/03/2017 at 4:59 pm

        Name and shame all nasty guyanese child molestors today online . They need more exposure about their sick crimes. I thought it was only white people that did this nastiness.

      • Mango chutney  On 05/04/2017 at 3:02 am

        NAME & SHAME all WOTLESS backward guyanese and see what their family has to say about their sexual predator favourite uncle…….

  • Yazmin  On 05/04/2017 at 5:21 pm

    This is truly sad. I have spoken to 2 women who were sexually abused by male relatives and were not believed by the mother.

    One was able to move on and have a family but the other person gave up, took to drink and died unfulfilled. Despite being abused over decades in the family home she was very beautiful kind and sweet . I pray and hope that where ever her soul is is that she is at peace . I miss her so much . God bless you my darling

  • guyaneseonline  On 05/07/2017 at 9:29 pm

    When mothers sacrifice their young daughters for a few cents
    May 07, 2017 Kaieteur News – Features / Columnists, Adam Harris

    There is a movie entitled ‘The hand that rocks the cradle’. It reveals the powerful influence of the mother. As is the case in the animal world, mothers would risk their lives to protect their offspring. All would go to great lengths.
    Who among us who have reared dogs would not have recalled being viewed with suspicion by a mother that has just given birth to a litter? When we try to move the litter the mother would be there at her protective best. It is not that the mother does not know us, but her protective instinct is often far greater than her appreciation of us, the owner.
    Many a little child in the household has been bitten, not seriously, by the mother because the child would not have been careful enough in handling one of the litter.
    Human beings may be a bit more tolerant of outside interference, but the female is no less protective of her children. Yet there are mothers who forsake their basic instinct for personal reasons. This has led to many children being abused.
    There was the case of Neesa Gopaul who died horribly at the hands of her mother’s lover. The reports are that the mother watched as her lover bashed in her daughter’s head and dumped the body in a creek along the Soesdyke/Linden Highway.
    I could not do nothing but commend the judge for the sentence he handed down. Of course there were those who felt that the sentence was harsh, but those of us who love our children wished the sentence could have been harsher. The mother and her lover should never walk the streets of Guyana again.
    There are other instances of mothers supporting their partners who attack their children. Many young girls can attest to this. Some have made bold to report such assaults, sometimes to relatives outside the home. Some have gone to their mothers and got the support. But this is not always the case. More often than not the child is blamed for what happened.
    There are two incidents that I would mention here. One involved a media colleague. A child reported an abuse to a relative who in turn took the issue to the police. In the end the abuser was sent to jail for a long time, much to the shock of many of us in the media fraternity.
    I recall, during the trial, that some people actually said to me that the child had trumped up the allegation because the man was harsh in the face of this child’s desire to “walk on the wild side.” Some believed this story.
    When the sentence was handed down I remember asking the judge about the things that helped inform his decision. He said that one of the things that stood out was the refusal of the wife to testify. She was a Seventh Day Adventist and the judge knew that her fear of the Man above was such that she would not enter the witness box and testify to what she knew was a lie. The judge said that the woman was not prepared to hold a Bible and do that.
    More recently, there was a case of a man molesting his eight-year-old stepdaughter. The media reported, quite correctly, a family member. For starters, I cannot see any sexual attraction for an eight-year-old.
    The matter came up in the high court about seven years later and the man was sent to jail for a relatively long time. If that were the end of the matter I would have been unconcerned at this time, but the fallout is horrendous.
    I got a phone call informing me that the child’s mother reportedly told her that she should have died. I asked the caller for a reason for the mother reacting in that way and learnt that the man in jail is the mother’s man.
    Here is a case of the mother blaming the victim because she sees her creature comforts languishing in jail, leaving her to fend for herself. I do not even want to contemplate the state of mind of this child who I understand is preparing to write her CSEC.
    I have three daughters, two of whom are mothers. One has a daughter and the other a son. I know for sure that one of my daughters would have been in jail for murder had anyone attempted to molest her child. They grew up in a home where no thought of molestation existed. We are a people who believe that children are to be protected.
    For this mother to blame her baby is sickening, and I propose to make an issue of this. We are not going to let the mother get away with this because that is not the way of a mother.
    Indeed, I have known cases where mothers accepted pay to allow the culprit to go free even as the child suffered. In cases where the matter took too long to reach the court the victim refused to testify because the episode was too traumatic to recall and the molester was allowed to walk to molest again.
    In this recent case, the prisons exacted a manner of revenge for the child. They beat the crap out of this man who was said to be a pastor. When the news reached me I celebrated. Even prisoners have a code of conduct. They do not suffer rapists, especially child rapists.
    Those in the Camp Street jail had dealt condignly with a man who killed his children. There was a community in South Sophia that killed a man. This man had molested a little girl. Somehow he was released on bail and he proceeded to do the same thing to the very girl. He is not alive to face the courts.
    We all know that children should be protected and some of us would go to extremes to do so.
    Link to cartoon:

    • Yazmin  On 05/09/2017 at 10:22 am

      Thank you for bringing this to our attention
      It is true that women will turn a blind eye because the man is bringing the money in whilst enjoying themselves sexually abusing the children .

      Nobody believes innocent children . There is plenty of dirty men out there as well as women who are turned on by it

      When my guyanese friend tried to escape from the guyanese pervert he would beat her and bring her back so that he could molest her at every opportunity. This went on for years and this man was a devout hindi going to temple . It was such a disgusting story. I feel physically sick that I could not do anything . They say what man don’t see , God sees.

      Another friend was sent to UK from guyana to.live with aunt for better life but the Aunty nasty old old husband started having sex with the young niece so she did it with him for fear of being thrown out.

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