[www.inewsguyana.com] – Women Rights Group, Red Thread has come out in condemnation of ‘A’ Division Commander, Clifton Hicken, who yesterday sought to suggest that the way women dress could encourage men to rape them.
In a statement issued today, Red Thread noted that Hicken’s comments demonstrate the urgent need for the implementation of the Sexual Offences Act 2010.
They called on Hicken to withdraw his remarks, and for the Commissioner of Police to urgently organize the ongoing training of all ranks to ensure that the enforcers of the law are not hampered by views such as those expressed by the Commander.
“For Mr Hicken to suggest that how women dress may be a trigger for rape indicates a serious failure in the training which has purportedly been done with the police. The inclination to blame the victim is a weak and lazy response to a serious crime, and it is unacceptable in the responses of the police – more so a senior policeman – tasked with investigating these offences,” the Rights Group said.
According to the statement, Guyana needs a police force that understands the underpinning of all forms of gender based violence and one which also understands that rape is not a crime of passion or temptation, but of humiliation and hate.
“The police must be trained to really appreciate their role as protectors of the vulnerable. They cannot act on this responsibility if they are limited by the belief that the victim of a crime such as rape must somehow have contributed to that victimization.”
The Women’s Group is of the view that the protection of women and the vulnerable in the society should not be relegated to the bottom of the list of issues needing urgent action.
Hicken Defends his Statement
Meanwhile, the Police Force has sought to defend what the Commander said through a statement issued today by stating that he was taken out of context.
According to the Police Force, the Divisional Commander had no intention to, in any way, justify sexual assaults.
“While the males in our society ought not to interpret a female’s mode of dress to be sending a particular type of signal, the fact remains that it is happening to some degree,” the Police Force noted.
According to the police statement, “The Divisional Commander has a lot of experience which provides information arising out of interviews of suspects in sexual assault matters, as well as intelligence coming from discussions among elements of criminal groups regarding sexual assaults they would have committed. This occurs when such groups have been infiltrated.”
“The Guyana Police Force supports the Divisional Commander in his crime prevention efforts, inclusive of sharing pertinent information, and wishes to reiterate that the Commander had no intention of defining moral conduct and that the statement was aimed totally towards crime prevention.”
Hicken at a news conference on Monday, November 17 cautioned women not to dress in a manner that encourages this illegal act that has claimed the lives of a few victims.
“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 women and girls must ensure they do not dress in any manner that “plays into the agenda” of a rapist.