Police Commissioner apologizes for Hicken’s rape comments

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By Tracey Khan – Drakes

Police Commissioner, Seelall Persaud and the protesters.
Police Commissioner, Seelall Persaud and the protesters.

[www.inewsguyana.com] – Commissioner of Police (ag), Seelall Persaud this morning offered an apology on behalf of the Guyana Police Force to protesters who were in front of his office expressing their disgust over comments made by Commander of ‘A’ Division, Clifton Hicken who suggested that the way women dress contribute to rape.

The Commissioner invited the protestors into his office and informed them that Hicken’s comments were “unacceptable” and formally apologized. The protesters were from several Non-Governmental organizations and included Social Activist, Mark Benschop.

It was only a week ago that Hicken said, “While we try to prevent somebody from committing the offence we must ensure that we do not create an atmosphere for it to happen,” he said; adding that “and that is why we advocate for young females within a certain age group who are vulnerable, between 13 – 18, to always embrace an attire that is accepted morally.”

He said this in the presence of the Commissioner and other senior members of the Police Force as he provided the media with the number of rape cases for 2014. The Commander urged women and girls to always dress in a manner that is “morally acceptable.”

Commander of 'A' Division, Clifton Hicken.
Commander of ‘A’ Division, Clifton Hicken.

Following public outcry and subsequent protests from several right groups, the Police Force in a press statement defended the comments by the Commander and said it was taken out of “context.”

Meanwhile, Benschop described the Commissioner’s apology a “step in the right direction” while noting that more needs to be done to educate members of the Force on social issues and their responsibilities.

He suggested that the Force conduct outreach programmes with women groups throughout the country to address concerns of abuse and other social issues affecting women.

Some 50 females have been brutally raped already for 2014 and this represents an increasefor this when compared to last year [2013] where 38 cases were recorded.

Last month alone, 11 persons were raped; representing a 31% increase when compared to the statistics for 2013.

Subsequently the Guyana Police Force issued a public apology on behalf of Hicken.

See full release below:

Divisional Commander ‘A’ Division, Senior Superintendent Clifton Hicken, wishes to apologise to all members of the Guyanese society who have been negatively affected by his comments made in relation to the offence of Rape, during his presentation of the Divisional Christmas Policing Plan on Monday November 17, 2014.
 
The comments made were an unfortunate bad choice of words since, like every other member of the Force, the Divisional Commander understands Rape to be a violent act of power and aggression by the perpetrator on a weaker person.
 
Rapists are criminals who ought to be treated as such, and victims are certainly not responsible for the violence committed against them.
 

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