14 year old Indranie Baldeo is the latest, most tragic victim of this country’s failure to give life to the laws we have on our books.
The Kaieteur News report of October 11 shows that Indranie’s rights as a child were violated many times over before she was finally killed. We can ask about the role of the schools inspectorate when she was taken out of school. We can question how thoroughly the police investigated the reports of the threats to her life. We can ask why the family was contemplating marrying her at 16. Sixteen being the legal age of consent was intended to provide 16 year olds with legal protection; it was not a recommendation that every 16 year old should be taking on the responsibility of sex or marriage.
It is clear that notwithstanding all the workshops and all the TV ads and radio programmes, there are still significant sections of our population that do not know how to deal with situations like Indranie’s, and unfortunately too many officers in our formal institutions – police, education, social services – who either from ignorance or from unconcern, fail to provide the protections that are urgently necessary.
Today’s headlines in both Stabroek and Kaieteur screamed about the murder of two children by their father. As we have read and heard before, relatives describe the father’s state as one needing urgent intervention. Will these two current situations result in more than the usual analysis and finger pointing and blaming? Can we recognize in these two tragedies and all the others, some not even reported, the reality that much more needs to be done at the formal official level, as well as at the organizational, community and individual levels to address violence and the protection of children.
Karen de Souza,
For Red Thread