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Probe into minister’s alleged sexual assault of teen girl may get detailed

Last Updated on Saturday, 17 June 2023, 12:53 by Denis Chabrol

Minister of Human Services Dr. Vindhya Persaud

Despite the 16-year old school girl’s recanting of her apparent damning allegations of sexual assault against a Guyana government minister, the Ministry of Human Services’ Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA) has been called in to conduct a wide-ranging probe, Minister of Human Services Dr Vindhya Persaud said Saturday.

“The Child Care and Protection Agency is carrying out a full investigation. All support will be provided to the young lady. Our women and girls must be safe and no one is above the law,” she said on Facebook.

Sources said although the girl on Friday described the allegations in her name against the minister as “untruths” that are “very hurtful and disrespectful” to her family, the CCPA’s investigation could still include taking the girl into guaranteed protective care at a safe place, the conduct of a medical examination and interviewing of persons.

If there is a refusal to allow the girl to be taken into protective care, sources said the CCPA is empowered to seek and obtain a High Court order to do so.

However, the sources expressed grave concern that the case might have been largely botched because of the failure of the CCPA to immediately locate the girl, take her into protective care and interview her on video before anyone might have contacted her. “The child should have been put in a safe place and the child should have told the story on camera at the Child Advocacy Centre so she only had to  tell it one time,” he told Demerara Waves Online News on condition of anonymity.

Referring to the detailed account of anal and vaginal intercourse allegedly with the minister at his residence, the minister described the contents of that letter to President Irfaan Ali as a “serious allegations” against her cabinet colleague.

The accused minister, who is known to post frequent criticisms of the opposition on his Facebook page, has not said anything about the accusations that have been levelled against him.

Meanwhile, Minister of Education Priya Manickchand said on Saturday that she takes allegations of sexual offences seriously and her starting point is to believe them.  “Allegations of rape and sex assault and gender based violence are not to be made lightly, are not usually made lightly and must always be taken seriously. I begin by believing complainants. Always. Every time. Because the statistics are clear.

Despite the myths, victims of rape and sex assault do not lie about their experiences any more than victims of any other crime. When the complainant is a child the complaint must take on even more urgent dimensions. I have always treated complaints of rape and sex assault urgently. Even more so when a child is involved. And I always will,” she said on Facebook.

Ms Manickchand confirmed that Chief Education Officer Saddam Hussain, who has statutory responsibility for learners in the country, made contact with the girl and offered her “our full support.” “The Ministry of Education will offer whatever support is needed/requested, if any at all, and will act only in the best interest of this child and in accordance with her wishes as we are mandated by law to do,” the Minister added.

The Education Minister, who pointed piloted the Sexual Offences Act while serving as Minister of Human Services and Social Security, criticised those who breached the law by publicising the girl’s name on Social Media , feared that would prevent other victims of sexual misconduct from coming forward. “And most dangerous of all is that children or women, who are victims looking on and who want to come forward, who desperately need help could decide not to avail themselves of same for fear of the exposure and out of mistrust carelessly promoted for the bodies/institutions designated to help. Use your pages consciously,” she said.

President Irfaan Ali on Friday vowed that stern action would be taken once an investigation proved that the minister was culpable.

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June 2023