I read with keen interest the Sexual Offences Bill 2009 tabled in parliament recently and the proposed penalties for the various offences. Some of the penalties I find to be somewhat draconian and lopsided judging from the fact that this bill presupposes that only men are capable of sexual offences or abuse in general considering the way the bill was laid out. What will be the penalty if a woman is found guilty of such an offence? Would those draconian penalties be administered? Make no mistake, many good men are being abused but in a Caribbean society he should take it like a man and say nothing. He suffers in silence for years with no redress; no wonder some of the weak men lash out when they cannot take it any longer. I recall one such case in a Barbadian court, the only one to date in the Caribbean, where an elderly man took his wife to court for sexually abusing him. Well you know the rest of that story; he was the object of ridicule for the rest of his life. Even the presiding magistrate was in fits of laughter when he dealt with this matter (men are the harshest critics of each other in this regard). Laws are made to protect society, all sections of society, and this includes men and women alike. Attention must be paid so as to protect the human rights of the victim as well as of the accused.
However, I am interested in other pressing domestic issues that confront us in Guyana today. These include domestic violence, drunk driving and the gun violence pandemic. In my estimation some of the penalties tabled in the sexual offences bill are applicable in these circumstances. Take, for example, a person found guilty of hitting or in any way abusing the other party he/she should face jail time. Too many domestic abuse cases have been showing up in society in recent times, with many such cases ending tragically. Something should be done about those abusers before it reaches the tragic stage. And for those women (herein lies the problem) who keep “forgiving” those beastly men I would recommend stiffer fines; this should amount to ten times the current fine for wasting the court’s time.
On the matter of drunk driving and vehicular homicides resulting therefrom, I would ask for an amendment to the existing laws to include a penalty of life imprisonment. The slogan, ‘If you are drinking don’t drive, and if you are driving do not drink’ says it all; either you designate a driver or simply hire a taxi to take you home. If a driver is found guilty of driving drunk, his licence should be revoked for life; he should forfeit the privilege of ever getting behind the wheel of a vehicle again. My reason for this is prevention is better than cure; too many persons are dying on the nation’s roads due to drunken drivers. The same penalties should apply for those who drive recklessly without a care in the world for the lives of others.
Lastly, the gun violence pandemic that has taken over Guyana and Georgetown in particular. I recommend that anyone found in possession of an illegal firearm must first be made to volunteer information as to its source. This is an important step in getting to the supplier of such weaponry and ridding the society of a serious scourge. One less gun on the street would be depriving the criminal of valuable weaponry that is so vital to the successful staging of a criminal act. The penalties should involve a longer time in gaol than that which presently obtains, and those vehicles (taxis in particular) found transporting gun-toting criminals should be confiscated and made the property of the state. By the way this is a very good way to have the police equipped with vehicles to promptly respond to criminal activity in Guyana.