How on earth does a man slash his wife’s throat, stab her multiple times and still walk the streets afterward?. Something like this could only happen in a scary movie about corrupt police set in a rural location somewhere far away from civilization, right? It could never happen in real life, in a democratic nation, where police are paid to protect the citizens, right?
Wrong! This is exactly what happened this week right here in Guyana. And, in fact, this terrifying scenario plays itself out over and over again on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis.
According to the Webster’s dictionary, a police force is, “a : the department of government concerned primarily with the maintenance of public order, safety, and health and the enforcement of the laws… b : the department of government having as its principal function the prevention, detection, and prosecution of public nuisances and crimes.”
In other words, the police are to protect the citizens and enforce the laws. That is the job they are paid to perform. If there is a police officer who does not do that job, he or she must be fired. It really is that simple.
A properly functioning police force does not mock victims of domestic violence when they come to report the abuse. It does not refuse to take a report from the victim or tell them to go back to the abuser or call the abuser to inform him about the victim’s visit. A properly functioning police force does everything it can to ensure a strong case against the perpetrator so the victim and the children (and by extension, society) can live safe and happy lives.
A properly functioning police force does not allow rapists to pay bribes to subvert justice. Instead, it has an innate drive to remove rapists from society to protect other women.
A properly functioning police force does not allow its members to ignore a car full of males to speed by at an ungodly and unlawful speed at night and then stop the car with two females who are breaking no laws.
A properly functioning police force does not ignore calls and pleas from several neighbours to help a woman who is being robbed at gunpoint (no, they never did show up).
A properly functioning police force does not further victimise a woman who has gone to them to report an assault by a community police officer that ripped off her top and bra in public.
A properly functioning police force does not stand by at a public sporting event or on a public street and allow a man to brutally beat a woman. A properly functioning police force would arrest such a man and do everything within its power to make sure he faced the full force of the law.
A properly functioning police force is equipped with the necessary tools to perform their job as safely as possible. They have a vehicle to drive to the scene of a crime in progress, they have bulletproof vests to protect them from any possible gunplay, they are armed and have ammo to protect themselves and the public, they have been properly trained in how to respond to such a case and they can leave the station because there are plenty more officers left to man the station in their absence.
A properly functioning police force pays its officers enough to create a good life for themselves and their families without a need to seek bribes.
A properly functioning police force adamantly rejects those who are corrupt internally. With a desire to be a beacon of hope and justice for the nation, it will proudly rid itself of any and every member who accepts a bribe or commits any criminal act. It would never permit its members to look the other way while an evil is being done to a citizen–even if it is another member of the force.
With this in mind, it is clear that we do not have a properly functioning police force. In fact, it is highly dysfunctional. Case in point, this time last year the nation was shackled to a police commissioner who was accused of raping a woman at gunpoint. He is gone now, but the taste of that profound betrayal of oath still lingers as those entrusted to protect the nation’s women continually betray them–and some even inflict harm themselves.
No proposed reform strategy of law enforcement will be acceptable without a comprehensive plan that once and for all protects women. Speaking of hot air, it is important to note that although my call for a functional police force may coincide with others who are doing the same, there is no connection between the two. This is clear in the fact that those in the opposition parties calling for reform do not incorporate the plight of women—half of the nation’s population—into their calls for reform.
Let’s be honest, women are no more important to the opposition parties than they are to the government or to law enforcement. Politicians from all parties can talk big in front of the television camera, make (unfulfilled) campaign promises about promoting gender equality within their parties and feign interest in protecting women – but at the end of the day women are still being raped, beat and murdered at epidemic rates while law enforcement mocks the victims and ALL political leaders allow this treachery to the nation’s female citizens slide without so much as a raised eyebrow.
This has been status quo for years. YEARS!! The mumble-jumble empty words and flat promises are now an indictment against the very ones who speak them. Words mean nothing anymore. Action is the only thing that will protect Guyana’s women. Stop talking. Please, just stop talking. Start doing. For God’s sake, do something!