DNA testing should be available now for cases involving sexual abuse of children

Dear Editor,

One of the most bile-inducing things to hear about is children being sexually assaulted, and then to know deep down that most will receive no justice but will be failed by the state.

Recently, the Minister of Public Security announced that DNA testing will commence “some time” in 2018 at the Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory which was  opened in 2014 with the promise of DNA testing being available then. Years later, this building is a dead elephant in relation to this most important tool for crime-fighting. Apart from a few high-profile murder cases where DNA testing was conducted by having the samples taken overseas, I wonder if this was ever done in cases of paedophilia and sexual assault. If the state was serious about protecting its citizens, then this would have been a top priority years ago. Imagine how many murderers, rapists, paedophiles and bandits are walking free because Guyana is still in the Stone Age in terms of crime-fighting in a world governed by awesome technological and scientific knowledge and application.

Guyana has an age of consent, which was upped from 13 to 16 in 2005. This means that a child below the age of 16 cannot legally consent to sexual activity, yet too often we read of cases of children being sexually abused and are left to wonder what happens next.

To identify yourself as a victim of rape takes tremendous courage because of the overwhelming stigma and shame attached to such a description by the society. The rape victim is again victimized, blamed and too often does not receive adequate counselling to get past the ordeal and heal the psychological scars, so when I read of such victims I am left in awe at their inner strength to seek justice for themselves. Yet many are denied this by the state.

Is a potential rapist or paedophile going to invite an audience to bear witness? I always scoff when I hear of ‘lack of witnesses’ in sexual assault cases. Which logical person would expect a criminal with the cunning to plan and execute such despicable acts to invite persons to witness the crime? Countless criminals are convicted on forensic evidence alone, yet Guyana is yet to employ this technology.  DNA testing should be done right here and the government must invest in the correct training of personnel. The taxpayers’ money must be used to protect victims.

While the law should see defendants as innocent until proven guilty, in cases involving children below the age of consent who were found to be sexually assaulted there is nothing to prove: it is rape. Someone is responsible and must pay. The excuse of giving consent and ‘wanting it’ are not applicable, yet who knows how many paedophiles are convicted by our courts. I cannot recall seeing these statistics in our newspapers ‒ the source of information on what is happening in Guyana used by the masses. Too often I read of child sex abuse cases and then after the article nothing else surfaces. I would like to blame the reporters for not following up but the blame falls entirely on the state for failing Guyana’s children.

DNA testing is old news and its usage has become so widespread that it can be ordered online and is the centrepiece of many tv shows. We are at the end of 2017 and DNA testing locally by the state in sexual assault cases is still just a dream. When will this be realized? Time moves too slowly in Guyana and life is viewed as cheap and disposable. While paedophiles and rapists continue their abominable acts the state plays with the lives of the citizens.

Yours faithfully,

Narissa Deokarran

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