Not every mother deserves praise or respect. The process of bringing a child into the world is not a simple task and maybe all women who commit to nine months of drastic changes to their bodies and possible health risks, such as hypertension and diabetes, should be commended for that. But must we deceive ourselves into believing that every woman who gives birth is to be revered for the rest of her life? No. Not, if she fails as a parent.

When we think about failed parenting, we usually think about fathers given the prevalence of the abandonment of children by their fathers. Most women nurture, love, prioritise and vow to protect their children with their lives. But there are the others who are not even worthy of being called mothers. For how can any mother knowingly put her children, and especially young children, in danger?

As a mother, when your child hurts, you should hurt too. When they are in danger, you should not be at ease until you know they are safe. But added to the many horrors in our small country, there are women who subject their children to all forms of abuse, including sexual abuse by men that they continue to have relationships with. How can a woman continue to lie in the same bed with a man who has molested her daughter or son? How can she look at him and not want him to suffer and die? How can she love him?

Recently, there was a story in the news about a mother who allegedly gave her partner and a relative permission to sodomise her 12-year-old daughter for over a year. It is hard to comprehend that. Do we judge her, someone asked. Do we not judge the paedophiles? Is the mother not just as evil as they?

I thought of all the other stories I know of and ones that have been reported about mothers who have failed their children.

There is the case of the mother of an 11-year-old who was raped by her step-father and instead of ending the relationship with the man, the woman started to hate her daughter and claimed that the child was “hot” and brought the rape on herself. This story reminded me about how some children are forced to grow up long before they reach adulthood. If her mother could not mourn the loss of her innocence, comfort her and seek justice for her, who was she to trust or have faith in? We cannot condemn that girl if her life continued on a downward spiral.

There is too the case of the mother of a 10-year-old boy, whom she allowed to be raped by his step-father. The mother’s excuse was that she had other children who needed to be taken care of and the man was the breadwinner. The child, who was always angry, became defiant. He was taken in by another relative, while his mother continued to live with the man. What could a 10-year-old have done to deserve such punishment?

And there is also the woman who walked in on her partner raping her daughter. She dreamed of walking down the aisle with the man and to be named his wife. She wanted honour and respect, but her selfishness revealed that she was anything but honourable or respectful. So, she told the man to marry her or she would report the matter to police. Never mind that he was the monster who raped her child. As for her child, she was to overcome her trauma alone and try to forget that it ever happened.

A mother allowed her twelve-year-old to be sexually assaulted for as little as a thousand Guyana dollars. Any amount of money would make it just as evil. Milk, bread, rice, they had to eat. She was desperate, but not desperate enough to protect her daughter and find other ways.

Sadly, stories like these are common in Guyana.

Why are mothers sacrificing their children to wicked men in the name of love and money? Do we call them crazy when they have not been diagnosed with any form of mental illness? Do we blame it on drugs? Do we blame it on poverty? Or do we consider that they themselves might have been victims too?

Whatever the reason, our children should be our priority, irrespective of whatever situation we are faced with in our history. If you are in a situation where you are financially dependent on someone that you feel the need to protect them instead of your child when rape occurs, you are a rapist too. You are raping that child of protection. You have condemned them to a life of distrust. You have dimmed their light and there is nothing you could do to ever fully restore it. You have increased their chances of becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol to numb their pain. I cannot empathise with you or understand that you did it because of “love.” A man who loves you would not rape your child. If you love your child, you will not stay or let his or her rapist walk free. There is no rationalisation that is acceptable. Stop disappointing and sacrificing your children!

We must stop thinking about what is and begin to train ourselves into thinking what can be. As for those mothers who may be in such situations, I ask you to think about the woman you can be when you do not stay trapped in unhealthy relationships. Think about the power you will have by walking away.

I cannot emphasise enough that women must empower themselves through education, skills training, or something that will allow them to stand on their own so that even if a relationship ends, they can move on. Think about the freedom this allows you, no matter how long it takes. And as for the women who can move on when the man rapes their child, but choose to stay, well, I really do not or will ever understand them.

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