Friday, May 25, 2007

Stella Says…Monetary compensation should not hinder justice in sexual assault cases

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 25 May 2007)

There are very few things in life that makes me so mad that I will raise my voice above a normal volume. Although I am passionate about a great many issues, when it comes to the violation of women, I would fight tooth and nail to see that justice is served.

My disdain for those who sexually assault women even surpasses my utter contempt for George Bush and his cronies. In my eyes, there is nothing in the world that is viler than someone who has sexually violated another person.

All of my passion about this subject makes it difficult for me to understand how a father would encourage his daughter to accept monetary compensation from someone who has sexually assaulted her – as was the case on March 30 when a 39 year-old man was accused of sexual assault against a17 year-old girl.

There is no amount of money that can restore a woman’s sense of security or replace the feelings of being so insignificant that some man could treat her with so little regard. When a woman is forced to accept monetary compensation from the very person who already violated her, it is as if she is forced to put a price on her soul.

Luckily, Magistrate Geeta Chandan did not allow the accused to get away so easily. Regardless of whether the girl was told to accept money as compensation, the man did not walk away from the accusations at hand. This is how it should be in every case.

When a man rapes a woman, he is breaking the law and it should not depend on whether the woman wishes to press charges against him. Every sexual predator should be held accountable for such depraved acts.

Some women are forced to accept money to drop the charges against their assailant, other women are pressured to drop the charges with threats of more violence and still others are ashamed of the public humiliation.

Whatever the case, the loathsome criminal should be held accountable in a court of law with or without the insistence of the victim. If the police have done their job properly (and that is a big if), there should be few problems in convicting these scumbags.

Moreover, women who are sexually violated should not blame themselves for the unforgivable crime committed against them. If one woman allows her sexual assailant to walk away without being held accountable in a court of law, it will not be the last time he assaults a woman. You can bet there will be more.

What kind of deviant would rob a precious 17 year-old girl of a promising future just to satisfy his own sexual desire? What kind of human thinks he has the right to sexually violate any woman? This type of person does not deserve to walk the same streets as the rest of humanity.

A strong message needs to be sent to would-be sexual assailants that if you touch a woman without permission, you go to jail. Period. There should be absolutely no tolerance from the family, no tolerance from the police and no tolerance from the judicial system.

In the words of Wintress White and Cora Belle Roberts of the Red Thread, who wrote a letter to Stabroek New on April 1 in praise of Magistrate Chandan on this case, “It is time for people to understand that girls and women are not for sale and that no man is entitled to violate our bodies and get away with it.”

In fact, it is a disgrace to the human race that such depravity was ever allowed to take place in the first place without justice for the victims. In some cultures it is the woman who must pay with her life if a man sexually violates her. How utterly shameful.

This is why I cannot help but raise my voice when it comes to this issue. There is no justice in murdering a girl who has been sexually violated. There is not justice in forcing a girl to accept money from her rapist.

Worst of all, it is absolutely ludicrous and utterly heartless to force a woman to marry the very man who raped and victimised her. In my opinion, any family that would do this to their daughter is no better than the rapist himself. And now that parasite can victimise her all he wants for years on end.

It is a further shame that even our religious scriptures encourage some, if not all, of these measures.

There is no justice in any of these quick fixes to cover over the criminal acts of a few pathetic men. There should be no way out for these types of criminals. They should not be allowed to buy or intimidate their way out of being held accountable to the law of the land.

Why on earth does society cater to these criminals and treat the victims like the plague? This is beyond all good sense. Sexual predators are a sickness in society. They are a scourge on humanity. And the sooner the world puts every single one of them behind bars, the better off the rest of us will be.

This column has been a long time coming. It is intentionally harsh and loaded with severe adjectives when describing sexual assailants because I believe that when we all start to openly treat these monsters like they should be treated, that is when our daughters will be safe again.

Email: StellaSays[at]

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