first_imgDear Editor,Red Thread believes that sexual offences against women and children (the entire range, from sexual harassment to rape) is a pervasive problem which needs concerted attention across all the many differences that we live with. We are therefore very disappointed that, with all that could be said about Mr Carl Parker’s conduct, Guyana Times writer Anna Correia found it necessary, in her column of September 3, 2017, to create fictions or alternative facts about what she had been told by the complainant (not victim) in the case against Mr Parker.Here is what Ms Correia reports: “…It must be noted that both Parker and the victim are members of the Peoples National Congress, the party which dominates the Coalition Government, and that efforts were made by the party to hush the matter.“When the victim refused to remain silent, she was eventually summoned to Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally’s office. According to the victim, Ally invited a leader of the Red Thread organisation to the meeting, without serving the victim prior notice. Interestingly, Ally proceeded to meet with the member of Red Thread behind closed doors – a meeting to which the victim was not privy. It was only after this that she received the victim separately in her office and dismissed the matter, without providing guidance or assistance as should a Minister of Social Protection. The victim returned to Lethem where the case is being tried. However, the Lethem Court has ordered that the victim procure the services of a lawyer to represent her for the upcoming September 6th hearing, without which the case will have to be dropped. The victim doesn’t have the resources to fund her defense, and calls for legal assistance on her behalf were unsuccessful. ”A brief account of our actual engagement in this matter follows: Red Thread contacted the complainant with the offer of support before Parker was charged. The complainant had previously written the leadership of her political party to report his assault, and it was this report to which Minister Amna Ally responded (albeit late in the day). The complainant welcomed our offer to accompany her to the meeting with the Minister, who had certainly not invited us to meet. Minister Ally, in the presence of the complainant, insisted that she needed to speak with her alone, and that the complainant needed no support, since she was an adult. It was in this circumstance that the complainant agreed with my proposal that I should speak with the Minster to state Red Thread’s concerns about the influences which could be brought to bear on the complainant.Red Thread has been totally supportive of the complainant throughout the process, from her reporting to the police to the present court hearing. We have also raised our concerns about Mr Parker’s apparently favoured status with the Ministry in letters to the newspapers which have been published.We are also deeply concerned that, in her zeal to call Carl Parker to account, Ms Correia has insulted and impugned the professionalism of the magistrate, while saying that her source is the complainant. Red Thread has been advised that the complainant has been in touch with Ms Correia, asking that she correct the statements which she has “put in the complainant’s mouth”. We urge Ms Correia to follow up with her.Red Thread welcomes Ms Correia’s advocacy against the sexual assault of women (hopefully, there will be other cases which she will champion in her column), but we urge that she get better acquainted with the relevant laws and court procedure.This kind of information would have saved her the error of writing that the complainant needs “to fund her defense”, and “to procure the services of a lawyer to represent her.”The complainant is not accused of any crime, so needs neither funding for a defence nor legal representation. It is always true that if a complainant is unhappy about the police prosecutor in her case, an application can be made to the Director of Public Prosecutions to have a trained lawyer prosecute instead. The complainant in this case has made such an application.There is much work to be done to hold sexual predators to account, and to ensure that politics and status are not used to shelter them from the law. Red Thread has, across the last several political administrations, worked with others with the aim of holding high-status party offenders to account. This is the first time we know of that court proceedings relating to a sexual offence are ongoing against a prominent official of a ruling administration.Sincerely,Karen de SouzaFor Red Threadlast_img