By Tamara Tucker
EIGHTEEN years ago, Leya (not her real name) was walking home from lessons when she was attacked by a man through a lonely alleyway, about 24 feet from her home.
The woman recalled that she would normally walk through the alleyway five times per week. “It was a norm for me because I would normally walk there all the time. It was 20:45 hrs a Saturday evening,” she said.
The woman, who is now 35 with two children, said that even though the alleyway was dark, because of the lack of street lights; it was normally the fastest way for her to reach home to do her chores after a long day of studies.
“I never thought that I could be raped. I always said ‘It could never happen to me.’ But it did. And to this day, I live with the regret that I thought nothing like that could ever happen to me,” the woman said.
Leya said that a man dressed in a black t-shirt and black bottoms snuck up behind her and grabbed her arms and dragged her into a clump of bushes.
“He covered my mouth with a piece of cloth and [took off] my pants. I froze, my whole body went numb and I was unable to move,” she said.
She added that the entire ordeal lasted for about 10 minutes and after he was finished he told her “Don’t walk back here so late.” Those words she said stuck with her.
The woman said that after the man left she quickly picked up her lunch bag and ran home. While running home she recalled smelling sweat, cooking oil and marijuana; remnants of the perpetrator who had raped her.
“I desperately wanted to get in the shower and scrub myself raw but that would have to wait. A quick glance in the mirror showed me just how bad I looked, with tears all down my face, eyes red and all the swelling and bruising starting to come out,” she recalled.
Leya was called to the table to have dinner with her mom, it was then she broke the news to her mother.
At about 22:15 hrs, Leya and her mother went to the hospital where they told the nurses what had happened and she was examined using a rape kit.
She added that she never told anyone what had transpired on that sad night because she didn’t want anyone to look at her differently. “Only my mother and the nurses that looked me after knew what transpired,” she said.
She added that for months after the incident she had negative thoughts going through her mind. “I was shame and was in disbelief that something like that could happen to me. Thinking about that night [made me] sick my stomach,” she said.
ROAD TO RECOVERY
Leya said that as the years go by, things are getting better and better and she is not thinking about what happened 18 years ago. She said that now she only talks positively about herself and looks at life more positively. Kelly said that now she is happily married and living life to the fullest with her family.
As for that dark alleyway, she doesn’t walk there anymore and she told her children to stay away from there also.
Sexual assault and rape are devastating for the victim and can cause many emotional, physical, and mental problems. Counselling is recommended for victims to help deal with the trauma of the experience.
So far for this year, 18 persons, including police officers, taxi drivers and a pastor have been placed before the Magistrates’ Courts to answer to rape charges.
Most rape victims thus far for the year were between the ages of three to 18. All rape matters are held in-camera and the media and the public are asked to leave the courtroom.
• In a most recent case, a Station Street resident was charged with raping his 13-year-old step daughter and was remanded to prison.
• In another case, two soldiers were charged with allegedly raping a 26-year-old female. They were both released on $300,000 bail. The woman was at the time with her boyfriend at a community centre ground, eating chips when they were approached by the soldiers who are known to them. The couple was ordered to have sex for the soldiers to see and when they refused they were beaten and robbed. The woman’s boyfriend was forced to watch the entire ordeal before the men stripped him of his gold chains worth $180,000.
• A minibus driver also appeared before the Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court for raping, a 21- year–old woman who has a disability, without her consent. He was remanded to prison. According to information, the victim was a passenger of the minibus of which the defendant was the driver.After travelling from Georgetown to Timehri the woman was unable to exit the vehicle. The defendant drove his minibus to a location at Timehri where he allegedly raped the woman.
• In another case, a City Constabulary rank found himself before the Chief Magistrate for allegedly forcing a detained 15-year-old boy into a sex act. He is alleged to have committed the offence at the Regent Street Enquiries Outpost at City Hall. According to reports, on the day in question, the juvenile was arrested and taken into custody for loitering and placed on a bench to sit. It was reported that around 23:00 hrs, a male constable woke the juvenile and told him to lie on his back, which he did. Shortly after the male rank returned and told him to stand by the washroom. It was reported that the Lance Corporal returned and unbuttoned the juvenile’s pants, placed a condom on the juvenile’s private parts and instructed the teen to have sex with him.
• A self-styled Bishop of a La Parfaite Harmonie, West Bank Demerara church will soon be going on trial for allegedly raping a female church member. The incident allegedly occurred at his East Bank Demerara residence. It was while the victim was at the pastor’s house that he allegedly had sexual intercourse with her against her will.
• And an ex-cop was charged with raping a three-year-old and was remanded to prison after being charged for having sex with the victim.
• A taxi driver was also charged for rape and sexually assaulting two sex workers. It is alleged that he tied up the sex workers and engaged in sexual penetration without their consent.
• A 21-year-old police constable who allegedly raped an underage girl is also currently before the court. The Georgetown-based accused is alleged to have engaged in sexual activity with a child under the age of 16. It was reported that the accused and the teen used to communicate via a social media group. The teen’s parents allegedly found out about a sexual encounter between the two and reported the matter to the police.
• A 16-year-old was also remanded for raping his seven-year-old cousin. According to information, the accused and the child lived together in the same home and it was during the month of January last, that he engaged in sexual activity with the child. The child then told his mother of what transpired and she reported the matter to the police. An investigation was then carried out and the teen was arrested and charged.
• A cop was also charged for raping his colleague. The 20-year-old was charged for having sexual intercourse with one of his colleagues at a city hotel against her will. According to information, on the day in question, the rank and an18-year-old Special Constable booked in at a hotel around 03:45 hrs, reportedly after a night out together. The victim alleged that the accused had sexual intercourse with her against her will. The matter was then reported and the accused was arrested for the offence.
From November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanise action to end violence against women and girls around the world. And while in many cases boys are also victims of such acts-one such case is highlighted above-this period highlights the importance of raising awareness of these brutal acts of violence in hopes of someday soon eradicating all acts of sexual violence once and for all.