It is definitely a subject she feels passionate about, but it was clear that she was not comfortable expressing her feelings. Therefore, as the conversation evolved over a number of days, it was evident that she was holding back. She is still part of the institution and maybe it felt like betrayal.
“I join the force as a young girl and I say from the beginning that I will work hard and move up the ranks,” she began in a relaxed mode.
“I work and I work but I was getting no promotion. Every year pass and when I think this is the year it was not; I start to think I would retire as a police constable.”
Nandy (not her real name) after many years in the Guyana Police Force has still not made it to Inspector, which is her goal. “I hope that by the time I ready to retire, I wearing brown clothes and I have faith that it would happen,” she said. “But let me tell you, it is not easy for women in the force. I didn’t find it easy. It was hard, but I still here, still struggling, I do my job even though I know I not getting fair treatment.
“You see if you get a pretty face and a kind of ready body things will work out for you – if you do what them officers want you fuh do. But the minute you don’t give in that is problem.”
“Give in?” questioned this writer.
“Yes girl if you don’t deh [become intimate] with them officer nuff woman can’t make it in the force you will stay at a low rank and is no upward mobility for you?”
“Did you experience this?” she was asked.
“Of course, I wouldn’t lie. When I join this force I was a young woman and I remember like after two years I get call to a senior officer office. That is how they does do it, they does send for you like if something happen and is when you go then they does dig it in you,” Nandy said, at this point she is visibly distressed.
She paused and appeared to be in a contemplative mode before she continued.
“He call me in he office… and he tell me I is a nice young girl and ask me if I get boyfriend or man in the force and is who I deh with. I was shocked. People use to tell me story but like is the first time I experience it and let me tell you it was not a good feeling.
“I can’t remember everything because is so long but I know I tell him something like I don’t want that and I left the office quick, quick,” Nandy said.
“But that was not the end of it, like every chance he get he making sure I know he want me. I didn’t give in and after a time he lef me alone, but me cork de done duck because no promotion was coming my way,” Nandy said.
“He was in charge for a lot of years and for all dem years no promotion for me. Some of them girls tell me that if I want promotion I have to give de man de thing. Is like people know this man want me and is because I not giving in I can’t get promoted.
“But I tell them that I didn’t go into the force to get man and that I will get promote on me on strength,” she said forcibly.
“Girl and I tell you how the man was so wicked I never get promote until he left. Is till when Mr [name of police officer] come to that division that a set a we get promoted. Because it was not me alone and not only women, but some men too he didn’t like, he just victimizing. But [the new officer] was fair, he look at we record and within two years we get promoted.”
Nandy said, “Is plenty story you does hear from them policewoman. I had a friend who tell me that a officer did come till by she home. She didn’t invite he… he tell she how he was in the area. In the area in the night? And nobody ain’t invite you but you in the area?” Nandy said angrily.
“So you are saying this happens to many policewomen?” this writer asked.
“Yes. Tek what I telling you and I know what I talking about. …Some of them officers sometimes I think they does be on a race to see how much women they can get.
“But is not women alone some men does feel nuff victimization if the officer don’t like them or if they stand up for them rights is bear fight down.
“Is not that I am not proud to be a policewoman. I proud yes. I also proud that I didn’t have to sleep with anybody to meet where I am today. But what is happening is wrong and I just wish women would speak out you know and maybe we would get some change,” Nandy said.
“It will be hard though because some women don’t see nothing wrong once they get the benefit and then we don’t look out for each other is everybody for them self. But I does try to help as much as I can and I would advise them young officer who come in the force. I does tell them straight up and some would listen and others don’t and they does learn the hard way…,” Nandy said philosophically.
The conversation was over. Not because Nandy did not have anything else to say, but it seemed she felt she had said enough.