By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Several local Rights Groups this morning, Wednesday, November 19 protested outside the Brickdam Police Station where the Office of Police ‘A’ Division Commander Clifton Hicken is housed.
Calls were mounted for the Divisional Commander to issue an apology for statements he made in relation to rape earlier this week and if not, then he should resign.
Hicken came in for severe criticisms after he urged women and girls, particularly between the ages of 13 – 18, to always dress in a manner that is “morally acceptable” as a means of preventing this illegal act that has claimed the lives of several victims.
His statement sparked immediate and widespread condemnation from Political Parties, Rights Groups and individuals who felt that he was justifying the monstrous act.
With the support of the Force, Hicken has since said that his statements were taken out of context and that he had no intention to justify sexual assaults; adding that his statements were based on experience in interviewing suspects in sexual assault matters, as well as intelligence coming from discussions among elements of criminal groups regarding sexual assaults they would have committed.
Among the Groups that braved the rain in protest were Red Thread, Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), Citizens Against Rape and Help and Shelter among others.
“He eyes pass me because he has no right to say what he said, he is a Police Commander so how can he justify rape by saying how women dress, I am making a demand for him to withdraw his statement. Furthermore I think he should resign,” one protester said.
The women on the picket line called on the Guyana Police Force to explain to all women and children its support for Hicken’s statements even as they denounced the poor implementation of Sexual Offences Act and the low rate of successful rape prosecutions.
“It indicates that they know nothing about rape, the reasons behind it, why it occurs and the conditions within Guyana that allows it to happen,” one woman said; adding that “unless we have a Police Force that understands it then we have little confidence in getting any justice for rape victims and proper investigations and convictions .”
Also joining the women on the picket line was Rights Advocate Mark Benschop who said that more men should have been out there to lend support.
“We cannot have a senior police officer attempting to justify rape based on how a woman is dressed, it is unacceptable and he must offer an immediate apology and withdraw the statement,” Benschop said.
Another protester reasoned: “Ultimately what he is doing is blaming the victim and it is never acceptable to blame the victim for any crime committed against that individual. It doesn’t matter how she is dressed, there is no justification for any individual to violate a female must less the age range the Commander is talking about. The police is obviously ill equipped to deal with some aspects of crime and if this is his philosophy we can imagine what he says to the ranks and why when people go to the police they are treated so disgraceful and not given full respect.”
Some 50 females have been brutally raped already for 2014 in Guyana; which signals a spiraling increase from 2013 where 38 cases were recorded.
Last month alone, 11 persons were raped; representing a 31% increase when compared to the statistics for 2013.