Saturday, July 30, 2011

What was learnt from the Neesa Gopaul case?

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 23 July 2011)

Question 6:
Tell me, what were your feelings when you first realised the full scope of the Neesa Gopaul case?

AFC candidate Khemraj Ramjattan
(Sections of this interview were edited)

It was shocking. I just couldn’t believe it. You get a sense of what our society has come to.
The proof now of one instance like this means that there are [others]. As to how many, I am hoping to God they are not very many. We have to ensure that they are [brought] to a halt.

And that is why community life must come back. I find that we have become individualistic now. Whereas in times before — like where I came from Number 47 Village, everybody knew everybody else’s business. Today nobody wants you to be prying into their affairs, but it is necessary. There needs to be a state of being where we are informed about what our neighbours are doing… .

[We need to] get that kind of culture back… . [There are issues] of privacy, rights and all of that, but I believe, know, that we have to get back to that culture whereby we are going to look after the children. It takes a village to raise a child and I would like to see that happening even in the city whereby the street will know what is happening to the child.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Would your candidate jail rapists? Maybe

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 16 July 2011)  

Question 5:
The laws of Guyana currently allow for perpetrators of rape to settle financially with the victim, thereby dodging the justice system and leaving a rapist on the streets to rape again. Would you be willing to champion a change in legislation that would enable the state to prosecute rapists based on the evidence regardless of whether there is a civil settlement?

PPP/C Presidential Candidate Donald Ramotar

Yes, that is a fair position. I don’t think the people should escape justice because they have money or because they can raise money and buy themselves out. Rape is a crime. Rape is a criminal offence. Just like how they say murder doesn’t have any statute of limitations, I think rape, too, should not have that limitation so people could be charged at any time – because I think it is a crime. It is a criminal activity. Yes, I think it could be done and it should be done.

AFC Presidential Candidate Khemraj Ramjattan
(Small portions of this interview were edited out for space)
I agree with civil settlements. I am in total agreement with civil settlements, but it must be accompanied with some criminal penalty. Because of the nature of Guyana’s economy, a girl being raped forcibly is going to be damaged, of course, and [there should be] recompense in the form a compensatory package or something that the man can afford, very many of them cannot afford it in Guyana, but once he can afford it, the girl should get it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

How would your presidential candidate address domestic violence?

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 09 July 2011) 

Question 4:
What is your current plan for combatting domestic violence?
APNU Presidential Candidate David Granger
(Small portions of this interview were edited out for space)

My plan is to ensure that the education system is reformed to deal with this. It has to be done at the school level. It has to be done at home. It has to be done within the religious organisations – the churches, the mandirs and the mosques. I would certainly ensure that educational programmes are modified to ensure that there is respect for each other’s ethnicity, respect for each other’s gender and respect for each other’s property at the level of the school. This is something that has to be taught.

The second instance is at the institutional level, within organisations [like] the National Assembly, the magistracy, and within the institutions of the State, equality should be mandated. At the national level, at the level of enforcement particularly, the police force has to be retrained. Not just trained, it has to be retrained to deal the domestic violence because right now the police force is what its name says – force.

[The police force] is designed to enforce then to arrest and charge people. It is not designed to counsel people. It is not designed for problem solving. And domestic violence is something that requires sympathetic counsel. I think the police force has to be changed.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

What does your candidate think about gender equality in leadership?

 (Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 02 July 2011)

This next question was designed to help the reader better understand what to expect from each candidate regarding female leadership in government should that candidate get elected.

Question 3:
I believe gender equality in leadership positions – including political leadership – is vital to balanced development worldwide. What are your views on gender equality in leadership and how would we see your views translate into policies if you are elected to be president?

AFC Presidential Candidate Khemraj Ramjattan:

(Small portions of this interview were edited out for space.)

I agree with gender equality. It is a big principle in our programme. It was a big founding principle of the Alliance For Change. That is why in everything we do, we have indicated that we want women to be involved. In our leadership structures, in the rank and file doing the actual work on the ground, we want to see women, more or less, involved in even in the designing of our programmes and have had very many women being involved in that.

We support there being at least a percentage of our women going to Parliament, and in the Cabinet if we win the government – of course, not in any way derogating from the principle of meritocracy – we know that Guyana has bright women who can be involved in all of these.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Presidential candidates on those creepy old men

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 25 June 2011)

Here is the next question I posed to the three main presidential candidates on women’s issues. I view this question to be especially telling in how much we can expect the candidate to protect the young girls of the nation.

Question 2:
Tell me, what is your view of older men who seek out girls under the age of 18 for sexual relations?

PPP/C Presidential Candidate Donald Ramotar

First of all, I think it is extremely immoral. Extremely immoral. Most of these relationships are sometimes exploitative relationships. I am very much opposed to it. I know we have a law of consent at the age of 16, but I think it should be frowned upon in the society even if the person is above 16.

If you have much older men preying on women in this regard, I am sure this is something we should frown upon in our society. We should discourage and expose these issues. If the relationship is exploitative, then the law can take its course. My own view is that it is immoral.