“I am disappointed, and for me from my point of view I wouldn’t encourage nobody right now to go and try to get justice because if she did not get justice I don’t who could. Seeing and knowing that my daughter did not get justice, I would now encourage young people to put it to God instead of going to the law for justice because there is no justice. Just try to put it behind your back and try to move on, with your life.”
The words of a 40-year-old mother whose daughter was brutally raped when she was just 16 years old, but four years later after being forced to relive the horrific details in a court of law, a 12-member jury found the accused man not guilty.
Her daughter was too distraught to speak to me, but she wanted to share the pain they both feel even as she questioned the reason for jury trials when it comes to rape.
“I could see like the judge, in she face, she did not agree with what the jury say because she know what the evidence was. I don’t know what more those people wanted to hear for them to convince that this big man raped my child. How could they tell her they did not believe?” she questioned close to tears.
It was a question I could not answer but I too felt anger and hurt, not only for her child but also for the countless children and women who are denied justice when juries find their accused assailants not guilty.
“That is why I would not advise anybody to go get no justice because after they find he not guilty is like the pain is more. And at the end of the day, you have to live with that pain and if you don’t heal yourself you would never be the same again. You will be looking for justice and there is no justice, it could make you run mad,” the woman said passionately.
She stopped speaking and grimaced. Her pain was almost tangible, and I wanted to grab it and lock it away. But of course, that was not possible, so I sat and allowed her the time she obviously needed.
“When the jury said not guilty is like I get stupid and I didn’t know what to do but my daughter broke down and started to cry.
“… I felt so empty, angry, disgusted and frustrated all at once. And I did not know what to do to comfort her at that moment, because I encouraged her to go through with the matter and get justice and now no justice. It was hard and it still hard,” she shared.
“You know is someone we know, and he offered she a drop; is not like it is a stranger or something. And then he do that to her and also beat she up, slap she up in she face and then just drive away and lef she deh like a dog.
“And then he turn around and lie in court and know that he come to me and offer me money to drop the case, but I tell he I don’t want money, me daughter want justice. But no justice for she, none.
“I still want to hear from the jury. You know like I want them to tell me what they was thinking, look what that man do to me daughter and is like they calling her a liar. She was just 16. Why would she want to put she self through all of the court story and so if she was not telling the truth?
“… This thing tek a toll on my daughter. Is like she is not the same person is like it took a toll on her life, she is just not the same person. She is getting counselling and I hope she will get better from day to day.”
We sat in silence for a while. She had agreed to speak to me because we have known each other for years and she would from time to time share bits and pieces of her life experiences with me. She has been through a lot and I repeatedly tell her I am not sure I would have endured the way she has even though life continues to be a struggle for her.“I don’t know what to say,” I eventually said.
“It is okay just listening and letting the world know what happened is enough,” she said with a sad smile.
“You know I tell my daughter that what she went through I went through too and I kinda know what she is going through. It will never be the same because she was still a child, but I know the pain of rape,” she said.
I looked at her in shock. In all our conversations, this was the first time I was hearing of her being violated.
“Yes, my dear, I was raped; and it was by policemen. The guy I was living with was held by the police and I went to the station. It was a police compound and one of the policemen, who I knew, tell me leh we go upstairs and talk about it. Because I did know he and he was close to my guy I went with he and he tell me if I sleep with he would let my guy out.
“I tell he not at all and just so he hold me down and start to fight me and is like I wanted to scream but I was frightened because it was night and it was a police compound. He put on a condom and he do something I don’t even know if he was finish or what but then two more come up and they like: ‘it can’t be no one man thing’.
“And one a dem come to me and I say to me self this not happening, and I start fighting really fighting and they tear off me panty and the other one [the officer she knew] say ‘man you all wrong don’t do that’. The third one, he stand up looking and I fight, really fight up and the first one keep saying ‘don’t do it’ and then like he stop and I just get up and run downstairs,” she said, breathing rapidly.
I asked her if she reported the incident.
“To who?” she asked with a small laugh.
“It was the three a dem on duty and then even after I say to myself who would believe me? But I told a friend and she told another police officer and like it get back to them that I told somebody. I would see them from time to time and they would like watch me. One a them get shoot and dead, another one went away and I does still see one – the one who just stand up and look, and I would stare he down until he look away,” she said.
“Is a lot of things I went through and I does tell me children that I not perfect, but I try. I try to send them to school and so. With my mother when I tell she I want go to school she tell me I better find a man and marry he. I marry since I was 14 and right away start making children. That was and is my life but what can I do eh?”
Once again, we lapsed into silence and I believe at that point she felt she had shared enough.
“My daughter just have to live with it, you know, that there is no justice in this place,” she continued after the pause.
I nodded and once again thought about the many girls and women who are raped and get no justice. How many more, I wondered. How much longer must rape victims contend with a jury to decide on the accused’s guilt or innocence? Guyana, it is about time we make jury trials for sexual offences obsolete.