Monday, April 23, 2012

Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 14 April 2012)

The effects of the dismissal of the advice that a charge of rape be brought against Police Commissioner Henry Greene continue to ripple throughout the country and even beyond its borders. It seems no right thinking person can come to terms with this untenable situation. Yet, while the prosecution and dismissal of Greene seems so clear-cut to the rest of the world, Guyana’s Attorney General (AG) does not seem to grasp it.

I am sure it was thought that when the advice to charge was dismissed, this gross injustice would probably raise ire with certain women’s groups and then the matter would just flitter away into the ether. That is what typically happens. However, this case signified the epitome of all the injustices meted out to Guyana’s women and could not therefore be swept under the rug so easily.

In fact, this case seems to have awakened a sleeping giant. Left with the incredulous realisation that Greene could walk away from such serious charges and might even resume his duties as Police Commissioner, the women are outraged and they are not letting up.

I have lost count of how many women, including women in the government, in the legal profession and even in other Caribbean countries have spoke out against the Chief Justice’s (CJ) decision in this matter.

Yes, the usual women’s groups have voiced their disgust at this blatant betrayal of Guyana’s women by the justice system, but there are many, many others as well. In fact, I do not think it is possible to put the cap back on this genie. It is out of the bottle and it is ready to fight.

Henry Greene’s credibility problem

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 31 March 2012)

Is anyone really surprised by the decision by acting Chief Justice Ian Chang to throw out the Director of Public Prosecutions’ advice that Police Commissioner Henry Greene—who has faced similar allegations in 1974 and 1994—be charged with rape? It is a direct reflection of the injustice meted out to women in Guyana every single day, but this time at the highest possible level. The law enforcement system and the judicial system have now proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the safety of women means absolutely nothing in Guyana. This is not news to the women of Guyana though. The contempt these systems have shown for women is an ongoing conversation everywhere I go, both from females and males.

This systematic derision of women was obvious in February when a victim of domestic violence in Wakenaam went to the police for help and the police bluntly refused to help her.

This scorn of the nation’s females was obvious in a story told to me recently about a woman who died from horrid violence inflicted upon her by a man and the police stood with the murderer and refused to arrest him until forced to do so by government intervention.

Every time a rapist, abuser, sexual harasser (and other such cowards) walks out of a courtroom with a smirk on his face and no punishment at all, the scorn of women by these systems is on proud display – both by the scoundrel who committed the act and the scoundrels who let him go free to do it again.

This is a slap in the face to women and it happens every single blasted, god-forsaken day! In short, the women of Guyana are incessantly abused by the law enforcement and judicial systems just as much as they are by the men in their lives. There is simply no other way to look at it.

On the credibility of rape victims

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 24 March 2012)

Rape victims are not always ten-year-old little girls who couldn’t possibly have done anything at all to provoke the lust of a grown man (although this week’s headlines have those, too). Those who rape little girls are obviously demented. Rape victims are also grown women.

Sometimes these adult women have consensual sex with men (aghast!) and as such they are often blamed for being raped since they happen to enjoy sex. After all, if a woman enjoys consensual sex, she must also enjoy being forced to have savage intercourse against her will, right?

This means that in sexual assault cases, a woman who has sex has a credibility issue. This is absolutely ludicrous, yet that is life for women in today’s patriarchal society. Women obviously want to be brutally raped, have all sense of security ripped from them and live with emotional turmoil for the rest of their lives.

Then there are women who, on top of having and enjoying consensual sex, may have additional credibility problems. Maybe she has lied or done something immoral in the past (who hasn’t?), or perhaps she had some drinks the night she was raped (being tipsy must mean she wanted to be raped) or maybe she wore a slinky, eye-catching dress (whatever was she thinking?).

In other words, if a rape victim didn’t have a credibility problem from the start simply because she was a woman and enjoyed sex before being raped, she would definitely have one if she is less than perfect in the eyes of law enforcement and judicial systems run by men.