A murder and an assault
The discovery of the decomposing body of missing 14-year-old Basmattie Moonsammy of Woodley Park Village, West Coast Berbice in a rice field in the area on Sunday last, coupled with the battering of 19-year-old Alana Farley at the hands of her ex-beau reveal more than the obvious – the fact that violence against women is as prevalent and horrific as it ever was.
Basmattie Moonsammy did not trip and fall and drown in the rice field. Her partially clad body, with disarranged clothing and a string tied around her neck told the tale of how she met her demise; a horrible way for anyone to die, much less a 14-year-old girl. Neighbours have hinted that she might have been wayward, but she was still a child and it’s a pity that no one was concerned enough about her tendency to stray to make a report to the Child Care and Protection Agency.
There is a distinct possibility that Basmattie Moonsammy’s killer, whoever that person is, might have thought that since she had been judged by society her murder might be just a little blip on the screen. Perhaps the killer felt the police might not try as hard to investigate her case or that the same society that judged her might shrug and concede that she was rushing to such an end. And if her murder was premeditated, then the likelihood that she was picked because of this is even stronger.
Alana Farley on the other hand is an adult at 19. She reported to this newspaper that she was badly beaten and dragged along the street in Bartica after she decided to end the relationship with her policeman boyfriend and subsequently went to the seawall with another young man. The young woman’s swollen left jaw is evidence of the cruelty she endured before a taxi driver went to her rescue.
After the brutal event she made a report at the police station in the area, which women have been and still are constantly exhorted to do in these cases. But then the worst thing happened. She was reportedly asked how far she wanted to take the matter and subsequently told that because her alleged assailant was a policeman, he could not be charged until contact was made with superiors in the city. She was also later told, she said, that no charge could be instituted until she got the witnesses to the assault to give statements.
Isn’t that what the police should be doing after they have taken a complaint and arrested the alleged perpetrator? Shouldn’t the police be the ones to go looking for witnesses so that they could build a case for the successful prosecution of the accused? Clearly the message here is that there are different rules for civilians and policemen when it comes to reports of them having committed criminal acts. Is it any wonder then that women sometimes refuse to, or are reluctant to file domestic and gender violence reports with the police?
Male on female violence, which affects 7 out of 10 women in the world, has been described by Executive Director of UN Women as “the most brutal representation of the violation of rights.”
When, as in the case of Ms Farley, the police hesitate to or do not do the right thing, they are further violating the rights of the woman.
It would be fair to say, would it not, that the lack of action or non-action of the police emboldens the men who beat, rape and murder women. Surely they must think that there is very good chance they will not be caught and made to face justice for their crimes. And even when and if they are caught, poor investigative practices, the bungling of evidence, poor prosecution and good probation reports could see them doing minimal time.
The cases of Basmattie Moonsammy and Alana Farley are similar yet different. They both, like so many other women and girls, had their rights violated. Basmattie Moonsammy was murdered. Alana Farley was battered and bruised but lives to face her attacker, hopefully, in a court of law. We can but hope that they and the many others who still seek it and for whom it is still being sought attain justice.