EYEWITNESS: The girl child…


…at risk

Hopefully, none of us in Guyana has to be reminded about the neglect girl children face in the world – even in the 21st century. It’s been five years since the UN had to declare “A day of the Girl Child”, to remind us of the barriers placed in the path of girls which prevent them from fulfilling their potential.

And what’s that potential? At a minimum, it would be whatever the men in their society can achieve. So the test of where we stand on this subject is very simple: just ask whether girls are doing as well as boys. Right off the bat I can hear you, dear reader, murmur that, in Guyana, girls are actually OUTPERFORMING boys in school!

And that’s come about by just simply insisting that ALL children have to attend school and, as such, thereby treating girls the SAME as boys! But if the truth be told, those girls’ performances are even more extraordinary when you remember that, overall, the girl child still has more chores to do around the house than her brothers! However, Guyana can still take a bow.

Another barrier in the way of girls was the tendency of most “traditional” societies to marry them off at a very tender age. A big part of what constitutes “modernity” was to have achieved this change without too much struggle. Here, in Guyana, the threshold age legally is 16; but in India, which is considered a “traditional society”, the Supreme Court has just made the minimum age that a girl can engage in sex 18! This means that, even if the boy marries the girl, they can’t have sex until eighteen. Guyana?

While there will obviously be enforcement issues, the point is action is being taken on this most sensitive subject. In the past, because of the desire to protect “paternity” to ensure estate succession, girls were married young to ensure they were virgins. But, fortunately, there are other avenues to address that concern nowadays. DNA tests??

One type of oppression inflicted on girl children from the dawn of time — and which actually appears to be growing — is sexual violence. The world and Guyana need to get serious about this. While it’s clear there are a lot of paedophiles out there — and boys are also affected — the authorities have not been doing as much, or moved as swiftly as they ought to.

For instance, how long have we been hearing about chemical castration as the most appropriate punishment for these monsters? Has anyone been so neutered as yet? A “sex offender” register was touted after that horrendous sex-murder on that boy child in Berbice.
When will this be actually put into place?

…just can’t win

Well, the other foot has dropped on the Prithima Kissoon travesty. Here’s a young woman, not too long ago a girl child, who made it all the way to be the Deputy Solicitor General of Guyana. But because she followed the orders of the AG in making a submission on a case involving Bharrat Jagdeo – which made the AG look stupid – he takes it out on the young woman! Harassment, abuse, intimidation and preventing her from performing her duties became the order of the day.

So she’d turned to the Public Service Commission (PSC) to seek justice – because that’s what the law of the land decrees. But without even reviewing her submission or calling in the AG, the commission members dismissed her – mere hours before their term of office expired.

This is not just a violation of the young attorney’s due process rights, which are guaranteed by the Constitution; it’s a rape of that Constitution, and by extension all Guyana. When will we say, “Enough!!”??

…and power

On the propriety of Trotman marrying his assistant, His Minister colleague, Gaskin, said we must “divorce” that!! Freudian slip??

But from the girl child perspective, doesn’t he have concerns about unequal power and undue influence?


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