The mother of a five-year-old girl, who is among three children reporting that they were sexually abused by a male relative, is decrying the attitude of a senior police officer at the Bartica Police Station whom she said blamed her for the abuse and attempted to dissuade her from making a report.
The woman said that while her daughter was detailing her ordeal, the officer watched a cricket match on television and kept asking the child to repeat some of the allegations because he could not hear above the loud audio of the television set. It was not until the community’s welfare officer visited the station and turned down the television set, that the child was able to relate her ordeal.
The five-year-old girl along with a six-year-old girl and five-year-old boy – all cousins – have related that the reputed husband of a relative had repeatedly sexually abused them over a period of time. Medical examinations of the girls have confirmed that they were abused.
The parents of the children are now up in arms because the police have released the 22-year-old suspect following the elapse of the 72-hour period that the police can legally keep a person in custody without charge and he has since disappeared from the community.
The first report of the assault was made on April 29th when the six-year-old girl reported to an older cousin that the man sexually assaulted her and he was promptly arrested. The man lived in the home with a 19-year-old female relative who assisted in taking care of the children.
The mother of the boy is yet to report the matter as he initially denied that the man assaulted him but he recently revealed that the man forced him to perform oral sex on him and threatened to beat him if he reported the assault. “Right now I just shaky, I can’t even eat nor sleep. I just thinking how he could do something like this to my son…” the child’s mother told Stabroek News yesterday from Bartica.
The man is alleged to have assaulted the children and taken photographs of their private parts with his cellular phone.
Most of the acts, which are alleged to have started sometime last year, occurred at the back of the house in a bushy area.
According to the mother of the five-year-old girl, she paid the relative to take care of the child while she and her husband worked in the interior. She explained that she lives next door to the woman and the woman was paid to sleep with the child and to take care of her during the day since she attends school. She related that it was after the six-year-old girl told her cousin about the assaults that she questioned her daughter and she revealed the horrifying ordeal to her. Both of the girls were medically examined and it was found that they were indeed sexually assaulted.
It was on May 7th that she reported the matter and she said that the police officer-who is said to be attached to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at Bartica-encouraged her not to report the matter since it would “take years to go through the court and it guh put a stain on me daughter.”
“He tell me how is years this thing will tek and show me nuff paper that he said is cases and how is nuff wuk they have to do then send it to the DPP and all kinds of things like he don’t want me report the matter…”
However, the woman said she insisted that a report be taken and the officer then blamed her for the act. “[Name of the officer] say how I shouldn’t leave me girl child and go and work because girl children must be near them mother and how is me mek that happen,” the angry mother related.
The woman said that after she stood her ground and demanded that a report be taken, the man told her daughter to recount what happened but continued watching a game of cricket and did not write down what the child was saying. “He watching cricket and when me child talking he keep saying how he ain’t hearing she and how she must talk up and is only after the lady [welfare officer] come and start talking to me daughter she tell (the officer) turn down the TV but still is after the woman go to turn down she self that he pick up the remote and turn it down.”
The woman said the officer was also hesitant to re-arrest the man as he was already placed on bail following the expiration of the 72 hours after the parents of the first child made the report. The man had to be taken off a boat that was heading to Parika and while the police held him for a few hours, he was later released and he has since left the community. The woman recalled that when the man was brought in the second time and the allegations made by her daughter were put to him he responded: “No man I tell you all I do is tek pictures.”
‘Tip of the iceberg’
Meanwhile, President of the Guyana Women Miners Organisation (GWMO) Simona Broomes, whom the mothers have approached to assist them in getting justice, said that the report of the three children being molested is just the “tip of the iceberg” of sexual abuse committed on children in the community.
Broomes, who hails from Bartica, said that she would be working with the mothers to ensure that the case is followed up and that the man is brought to justice.
The mothers, who admitted that they have not checked with the police for some time, said that the last thing they were told is that the matter is now with the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
According to Broomes, who is visiting the community, she has received several reports of rapes and the lack of justice for the victims. She feels that National Assembly is not doing enough for children whose lives are being destroyed by sexual violence. For her, it is an indictment of both the government and the opposition. Because of the many reports received and the children not receiving the help they need, Broomes has since reached out to child psychologist Dr. Faith Harding who has agreed to visit the community to work with the children. While Stabroek News has been unable to confirm with Dr Harding, Broomes indicated that the psychologist has agreed with visit with two other persons this weekend to meet with the affected children. “I will make my home open and children can come and be counselled because this thing is destroying the children in this community,” Broomes said.