When someone tells you how much they care about you, it is always wise to take stock of their actions to decide if those actions actually correspond with the honey-dripping words coming from their mouths. This is how you will know exactly where you stand in that relationship.

For example, the women of Guyana have been serenaded with sweet sonnets about how much the government cares about them, yet the activity of the past week in relation to the four young women who were rescued from sex slavery demonstrate something completely contrary to these expressed sentiments of “love.”

20130427stellaWhile the women of the Guyana Women Miners Organisation (GWMO) risked their lives to save the four young women from being trafficked, the Ministry of Human Services could not manage take the women in on the day they had been rescued; the Bartica Police could not spare an officer to protect them at a private residence for just one night and a Guyana Geology & Mines Commission officer stood by and watched as the rescuers were assaulted by the suspects!

And this was just day one in this whole botched fiasco. The GWMO did all the real work; it just needed a little support, but even that seemed too much to ask.

This bad romance concerning Trafficking in Persons (TIP) started long before this week—it started when the government declared to the world that TIP was no major issue in Guyana. It was in this way the government was able to hush the many calls for action on this issue, both nationally and internationally.

I have never really understood why the government never wanted to confront this issue, but then again I have never understood why my mother abused me when I was a child either. Regardless, when the GWMO decided to take it upon itself to do the job the government refused to do, there was no more covering up this dirty little secret.

The Government of Guyana does not like it when it is shown to be incompetent. When it comes to TIP, it has also been openly and wilfully negligent. How many ways did it show its “love” for the women of Guyana this week? Let me count the ways:

1)    It was not the government who went in to a highly dangerous situation to rescue these girls, who were being held against their will. It was an NGO that was not even afforded protection as they conducted a rescue mission the government should have been doing all along.

2)    As the GWMO members made their escape with the rescued girls, a seemingly complicit Guyana Geology & Mines Commission officer halted their getaway and stood by and watched as the rescuers were threatened and assaulted. This happened even though the Commander of the E&F Division and the Minister of Natural Resources were both contacted before the rescuers left the camp with the TIP victims.

3)    A law enforcement officer has been charged in connection with the case.

4)    The Ministry of Human Services & Social Security, which seemed an unwilling contributor in this rescue mission, informed the rescuers that it could not manage to take custody of the young women on the day they were rescued. The rescuers were offered a private residence in Bartica to spend the night, but fearing for their safety after being chased by the traffickers, the rescuers requested police protection for the girls and were denied. The girls were forced to sleep overnight at the police station on a bench and the floor.

5)    The next morning the rescuers are told the Ministry of Human Services requested the girls be brought to Georgetown immediately. However, the ministry offered no transportation to do so. Once again, it was GWMO to the rescue.

6)    Once in the city, a female officer at the Eve Leary police station chastised the rescuers for making the government look bad when she should have been thanking them for saving and protecting the young women, which is the job of the officer and the government. Instead, she said degrading things about the girls, further victimising them and making a traumatic experience for the whole group even worse. So much for that all of that alleged sensitivity training.

7)    Instead of acknowledging the validity of a request for the victims of TIP, a minister is offended when in the National Assembly it is mentioned that there should be a safe house for the victims who are rescued so they do no have to overnight in a police station on a bench as this, too, is dangerous. As if the minister is shocked that someone would insinuate that women have been assaulted in police stations (because that never happens, right?).

8)    After she picks him out of a line-up, there is a confrontation between the 14-year-old victim and the cop accused of taking her into the Backdam. Why on earth was this man allowed to see, much less speak, to the victim? How many damn times must this girl be victimised?

9)    Crime Chief Seelall Persaud said ranks are preparing to head into the Tiger Creek area to rescue more girls being held against their will, but said the mission travel depended getting the necessary money and transportation. (My initial response to this statement was a bunch of question marks in my head, but those were quickly replaced with curse words that cannot be published in this newspaper).

10) Now that the traffickers know there is a rescue mission coming, they have plenty of time to “clean house.” How nice of the Crime Chief to give the criminals a heads up. But that’s okay because he wasn’t sure retrieving girls being held against their will should truly be deemed something as noble as a “rescue” mission anyhow.

11) Law enforcement actually took the four rescued TIP victims back to the place they were held as sex slaves! That would be like forcing a rape victim to visit the scene of the crime. Does anyone around here have any training on how to help victims at all???

I think it best I stop counting the many ways the government loves the women of the nation for now. I’m starting to doubt the love.

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