Monday, May 31, 2004

Gya: Guyana's bam-bam police refuse to act against a pedophile

The heart-wrenching trauma for the mother of a 13-year-old who was allegedly kidnapped by a businessman continued yesterday when the girl fled from her relative's home on Saturday night and apparently returned to the man.

The child's mother, Bibi Shameeza Hamid, yesterday questioned where a desperate mother could go for help for her child as she said it seems that the police and the courts are unable to help her.

Hamid told Stabroek News yesterday that her child escaped from her aunt's house at around 11:15 pm in a small jeep, PCC 3725. She said this vehicle is under the authority of businessman Reeaz Khan who the mother earlier this month accused in habeas corpus proceedings of abducting her daughter.
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In her quest for help, Hamid had moved to the High Court seeking to have Khan produce her daughter after he had refused to return the minor to her custody. As a result, on May 20, Justice BS Roy had instructed Khan to release the teenager into the joint custody of her mother and maternal aunt and to avoid contacting her. However, Hamid alleged that Khan abducted the child from her sister's home around 1 am the next day and she was returned to her mother at a private hospital early the following morning.

In a counter-move, Khan's lawyer last Friday moved to the High Court and filed proceedings seeking to have the court allow him to marry the child. This move, Hamid said, she would fight all the way.

Yesterday the woman said she was frustrated, as it appears as if Khan could do whatever he liked.

She yesterday questioned how come he had been allowed to get away with his actions after the judge had instructed him not to make contact with the girl.

She stated that a report was made to the Wales Police Station again yesterday and policemen took a statement from her but nothing else was done.
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The Guyana Indian Heritage Association (GIHA) is the only group thus far to come out in support of the woman in her ordeal. The group in a release yesterday expressed grave concern about the issues raised in this particular case.
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According to the release, Hamid related that she had entrusted her daughter to Khan for a work-study programme in good faith and that he had betrayed this trust by having sexual relations with the girl and holding her against her mother's consent.

"While GIHA hopes that the judicial system will provide a just and legal decision in the matter, the group is concerned about the serious moral issues the case raises."

The group stated that in this case where a businessman used his public profile as a senior member of a masjid and his financial clout to lure an unsuspecting parent and her child into a situation where he betrayed their trust, Khan showed contempt for the mores of civilised society and the rules of acceptable and decent behaviour. The group offered support to Hamid and hoped that her daughter would be returned to her care.

Yesterday Hamid related that persons are encouraging her to settle the matter by allowing Khan to marry her child.

"But how could I do that? That is my little child how I could marry her off to a big man like that? I know she is going to be miserable and in the long run he will treat her bad and I am hurting now but I will hurt more if I allow it to happen, I can't do that," the woman said.

"I don't know what to do but things really terrible for me as a mother."

The woman yesterday said that she was afraid that her daughter might be taken out of the country since the child had taken her passport to Khan. She wants all the airlines and travel agencies to be on the alert for this.
A number of factors are worthy of consideration here: the age and belief system of the businessman, and the attitude of the police.

From all I've been able to discover, Reeaz Khan is the director of Reaaz Trading Enterprises. His age, I've yet been unable to determine because it appears in none of the documents online searchable at Land of Six Peoples. That Ms. Hamid describes Khan as a "big man" indicates that Khan is either in his thirties or older.

Given his position in the company and in the Islamic masjid, I would estimate that Reeaz Khan is not less than 40-years old, and is old enough to be the child's father, if not her grandfather. Whatever his age, his actions though despicable are permissible under Islam. After all, the prophet Mohammed had a wife younger than this child.

What is equally distressing is that here is a senior member of a mosque, a wealthy businessman, engaging in pedophilia with the consent of the Guyanese police who are disinclined to uphold court orders. Thus, the case demonstrates that Guyana is a way away from being a nation of rule of law. Why the police will do nothing, no one knows. It is possible that money could have changed hands; it is also possible that the police choose to do nothing because they see nothing wrong with the actions of Reeaz Khan. It is also possible that there are no anti-pedophilia laws on the books in Guyana. Either way, none of this looks good for the South American nation.

In spite of his flouting of the law,
[city] businessman Reeaz Khan has petitioned the High Court for permission to marry a 13-year-old girl, stating among other things, “that much love and affection had grown between us”.

The filing of the petition in the Supreme Court Registry yesterday afternoon follows Court proceedings in which the mother of the child had approached Justice B.S. Roy via a habeas corpus order to compel Khan to produce the girl. The girl was allegedly in the businessman’s custody at the time.
It will be interesting to see what the court does inasmuch as Justice Roy had barred Khan from having any contact with the child. Apparently, also, citizens of Guyana can petition the court to marry underage children "under Section 33 of the Marriage Act, Chapter 45:01 of the laws of Guyana."

Here is the substance of Khan's petition:
“Between March 2004 and April 2004 Bibi and her mother Bibi Shameeza Hamid stayed at your Petitioner’s home at 51 Eccles, East Bank, Demerara.

“That after the first week in April 2004, Bibi Shameeza Hamid left Bibi Natalia at your Petitioner’s home. She would from time to time visit your Petitioner’s home, sometimes staying over for nights. During this period much love and affection grew between your Petitioner and Bibi Natalia Hamid.

“On April 19, 2004 Bibi Shameeza Hamid told Bibi Natalia Hamid to return home with her. Bibi Natalia refused.

“That your Petitioner, Bibi Natalia Hamid and her mother, went to a family meeting at La Retrait, West Bank, Demerara. At that meeting, the relatives of Bibi Natalia Hamid, including her mother Bibi Shameeza Hamid, agreed that it would be in the interest of Bibi Natalia Hamid for her to return with your Petitioner.

“That your Petitioner has no contact with Bibi Natalia Hamid and consequently she could not have been able to make this petition jointly,” Khan declared in his petition. He is urging the Court to allow the girl, who will be 14 years in September, this year, to marry him.

The Petition was taken to the Chambers of the Chief Justice, who will take evidence from the girl and her parents in considering the application.
One can only hope that the Chief Justice of Guyana jails this pedophile and throws away the key.

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