– Manickchand blasts Lawrence over “deflowering” comments
It is both disturbing and dangerous when the agency responsible for helping victims of rape refers to this horrendous act as “deflowering” – a term which does not encompass everything that is rape.
This was expressed by former Human Services Minister Priya Manickchand, who posited that “rape is rape” and any attempt to desensitise this horrific crime must be strongly condemned.
The Social Protection Ministry, headed by the controversial Volda Lawrence, in more than one public statement, urged the end to the “deflowering of children”.
“Rape is rape, Minister. There is no need, and it is in fact dangerous, to dress it up and speak gently about it. Deflowering has traditionally been used to indicate the loss of virginity and purity in girls and women. To use this word to address the sex abuse, rape and incest of our children is foolish and backward,” Manickchand declared.
The former Human Services and Education Minister explained that the use of a lighter word in the place of rape reminds her of when it was still taboo to openly use the words “penis” and “vagina” in sensitisation. Moreover, she questioned Minister Lawrence’s comprehension of the definition of the two terms as she pointed out that a child can be raped and not deflowered.
“So once the deflowering stops, is it okay for someone to just rape the babies? We do know that rape is defined much more widely than penetration of the vagina by the penis, don’t we Minister? We should know by now that rape means in Guyana the insertion of any body part into another body part without consent and under certain ages. So a child can be raped and not “deflowered” by being made to put into his/her mouth a penis. A boy child can be raped without being deflowered by being anally penetrated. Don’t we know these things by now?” expressed Manickchand, who is also a PPP/C Member of Parliament.
Manickchand said the softening of such a brutal crime contributes to the rape culture, and when the country’s chief champion against abuse fails to make clear her position in addressing these issues, it is a matter of grave concern.
However, she noted that perhaps this posture demonstrated by the Minister should come as no surprise given her previous stance on a matter of similar nature.
“But then again, this is the Minister who thought a woman whose child was raped by her uncle and who was repeatedly making complaints about same to those in authority should have dealt differently with the matter, should have hushed it up! It was after all, she said ‘a family matter!’” Manickchand stated.
Earlier this year, Lawrence came in for much criticism after she made some unfortunate remarks and had a casual approach in defence of a man who was charged for sexual molestation. In her defence, the Minister was quoted by another section of the media as saying, “This is a family issue that has been going on and on and on and on for whatever reason, I can’t tell you, because if I had a brother, even if there was an accusation, this is not how I would go about helping him.”
Additionally, it is alleged that the molester’s sister further alleged that she told the Minister that her brother needed to be jailed for his involvement, but Lawrence asked her not to pursue such actions. Coupled with her use of the word ‘deflowering’ to define rape, many more are beginning to question Lawrence’s capability to effectively manage the affairs of the Social Protection Ministry.
Already, several rights activists, led by human rights group Red Thread, had conducted a series of picketing exercises demanding the resignation of Lawrence following her callous statements on the accused child molester.