by Keith Williams
I argued a long time ago that Guyana was a strange country, that produced strange people and of course strange thinking. The two most poignant examples and proof of this are connected with the attitude and positions of some in their response to gross violations of the law and the human rights in the circumstances where due process and presumption of innocence was permanently denied to many in the vigilante and extra-judicial killings that occurred under the PPP, and this latest serial sexual preying on young impressionable girls and women at a prestigious local college.
Rape and other forms of sexual procurement of citizens, especially when they are in institutions of learning, represent one the most odious forms of human rights violations. Rape is legally defined as carnal knowledge of a person by force, fear or fraud against their will. When your professional occupation is one where you exercise power over others, over their lives, over their success and performances, it is easy to lure or influence them into sexual connections because of that power. No consent given, under those circumstances, can be free and voluntary. Consent is procured or coerced by the circumstances embedded in the relationship.
A few years ago there was a heated debate over the comments by a high Law Enforcement Official and supported by many on these pages, that the primary cause of rape was because women dressed in a seductive manner and so tempt men into committing these acts. So in a nutshell, if a woman is on the beach dressed in a skimpy bikini, she is inviting men to rape her. That this anachronistic and neanderthal like understanding inundate a significant portion of the male population in and out of Guyana is a tragedy. That it is also being embraced by women in prominent positions in Guyana when the victims are young women, when sexual and domestic violence continue to reap havoc on the lives and existence of women and young children in Guyana, represent an infamy that is shameful and morally and ethically catastrophic.
The late American martyr Martin Luther King Jr. challenged us to never be afraid to do what is right when the well being of a human being or animal is at stake. That the punishments we elicit from society for not looking the other way are small compared to the wounds we inflict upon our soul by looking the other way, Ruel Johnson, in my opinion, came face to face with this experience when he received information of alleged predatory sexual behaviour of a school teacher by some of his victims. He was faced with the choice of looking the other way and thus becoming a principal in the perpetuation of these acts, or he could courageously, within the scope of his responsibility as a citizen, follow the guidance of the ethical and moral tenet articulated by Doctor King. That he chose to ignore the social repercussions and barbs that would inevitably come from the unprincipled cheerleading supporters of the alleged offender is proof that preservation of his conscience and soul was far more important to him than establishing some sort of cultural or social comity with this lot.
Anna C. Salter in her book Predators, Pedophiles, Rapists, And Other Sex Offenders factually and intelligibly point out that “….over and over victims are blamed for their assaults. and when we imply that victims bring on their own fates – whether to make ourselves feel more efficacious or to make the world seem just – we prevent ourselves from taking the necessary precautions to protect ourselves. Why take precautions? We deny the trauma could easily have happened to us. And we also hurt the people already traumatized. Victims are often already full of self-doubt, and we make recovery harder by laying inspectors blame on them….”. When the most vulnerable, those who have the least power, those who have traditionally been the prey of sexual and several forms of domestic violence, are blamed for the experiential circumstances of their victimhood in any society, it means that society is still trapped in a time warp where moral and ethical decay represented the social order and mores of the time.