Region One records significant increase in reports of statutory rape

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Reports of rape in Region One (Barima-Waini) has increased significantly for the year with 48 reports of statutory rape recorded thus far; this is a 342 per cent increase when compared to 14 reports in 2020.

Statutory rape refers to nonforcible sexual activity in which one of the individuals is below the age of consent. The law states that no one under the age of 16 can consent to have sex.

In 2019, only three reports of statutory rape were recorded in the region, Regional Commander Superintendent Boodnarine Persaud revealed during this week’s ‘Police and You’ programme.

“Most of these rapes are reported when pregnancy occurs and it’s occurring in the Amerindian settlements,” the Commander said.

He believes the rapid increase in reports is a direct result of sensitisation sessions held in these villages relating to the age of consent.

Regional Commander Superintendent Boodnarine Persaud during a recent meeting with residents of Region One

Superintendent Persaud said he also believes that there were many instances in the past where these incidents went unreported simply because persons did not understand the law.

“You can see there are more reporting [of the rape]. The target age there is between 12 and 15,” the Superintendent said.

Police in the region are faced with many challenges, including prosecuting the perpetrators. In many instances, the perpetrators are the same age as the victims and as such when the report is submitted for legal advice, it comes back to say counselling must be offered to the perpetrators.

“In certain cases, there will be charged, but all these matters have to go to the High Court, so you are not really seeing the result,” the Superintendent said.

The police there are being supported by non-governmental organisation Blossom Inc., and the Superintendent is hopeful that with more community outreaches and police patrol, there will be a reduction in incidents of rape in the region.

Meanwhile, the statistics show that overall in the country, 254 rape cases have been reported so far for 2021, a 55.8 per cent increase when compared to the 163 last year.

Superintendent Persaud is urging all residents from the region to share any information or report any crime to +592 657 7971.

The government has undertaken a number of initiatives aimed at eliminating violence against women and girls in Guyana. The Ministry of Human Services and Social Security launched a 914-emergency hotline in December 2020.

The 24-hour hotline provides emotional support, crisis counselling, and other support mechanisms to domestic and sexual violence victims. The hotline was launched as a result of the significant decline in the reporting of violence and child abuse due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It should also be noted that persons can call the Childcare and Protection Agency (CPA) directly to report incidents of rape.

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