Monday, April 23, 2012

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.

Yet now, this decision by the High Court is hard evidence of the contempt those who are supposed to protect the women of Guyana have for the very same women.

In his decision, Chang actually cited the American case against former head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss Kahn [DSK], and the fact that the victim’s lack of credibility was given as a reason not to pursue charges against him.

How ironic that DSK is now under investigation for illegally procuring prostitutes. DSK was no credible man. DSK was no innocent man.

The reason both DSK and Greene have walked away from rape charges has nothing to do with their spectacular credibility or the supposed tainted credibility of the victims. As a result, the women must pay the price yet again. The women always pay. Just walk on the women, use them, beat them, rape them, murder them; after all, they are only women. Yes, the systems’ contempt toward Guyana’s women is on flagrant exhibition this week and it is absolutely nauseating.

In examining Chang’s decision, it is incredulous to me that a figure such as Greene, who has been previously been accused of this type of behaviour, is found to be credible in any High Court.

The truth of the matter is that even if you do not deem the victim to be a credible witness, still yet Greene admitted he had sex with the woman. The woman said it was forced; Greene said it was consensual. As a result, it should have been up to a jury to decide whether there was a crime.

Chang ripped the victim’s credibility to pieces in his decision all the while ignoring other more pertinent issues at hand.

It was vital for this case to go to trial because of Greene’s history with sexual harassment and sexual assault. He is the one with a credibility problem. Even as the country’s Top Cop, America didn’t want Greene to set one foot on US soil. Greene is the Police Commissioner and should be held to the letter of the law, not allowed to find loopholes to skirt the law.

This case should have gone to trial because it has been difficult enough for women’s advocacy groups to persuade rape victims to seek justice already, now it will be 100 times more difficult because they know their word does not matter and that even the judge could paint a picture of them that portrays them as the aggressor. This is a fact with which Chang would be well acquainted and some semblance of this fact should have been a factor in his decision since the case involves the Top Cop.

It was vital for this case to go to trial because the women of Guyana have had their best interests shoved to the side to pander to the egos and whims of men for so long that it would have been nice for once to know that the women actually mattered.

So what happens now that the law enforcement and judicial systems have failed women once again? I know this much, those men in their lofty leadership roles think women to be ignorant, uninformed and docile.

They do not think women will react to this decision. They expect women to do what they have always been expected to do… nothing. Women are to simply accept this slap in the face with a curtsy and a “Thank you sir.” Is that what will happen, Sisters? Will you curtsy yet again?

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