Rape survivor calls for culprit to be given maximum penalty

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

For a 24-year-old rape survivor, her life would never be the same as her mind continues to replay the tormenting events of the night she was held at knifepoint and raped.

On the night of December 17, 2013, at the age of 16, she was preparing to write the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations and was walking home from a friend’s birthday party when a knife-wielding man pulled her into a clump of bushes and raped her.

The man, manslaughter convict, Corwyn Arthur, of Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice), dealt her several cuffs to her face, held a knife to her neck, and threatened to take her life while committing the unlawful act. Arthur, otherwise known as “Cross Eye” was, in March, found unanimously guilty by a jury of sexually abusing the woman.

Although almost nine years have passed since the incident, the young lady shared that she is still forced to live with those memories.

Instead of going through a trial, she said she wished Arthur would have pleaded guilty to the crime.

“I still have a mark on my forehead from him hitting me and pulling me through the bushes. I wish none of it happened,” she shared in her victim impact statement that was presented to the High Court last Friday.

According to her, people would see the mark on her face and ask her “like you had a bad fight”. But their endless questioning would bring back so many terrifying memories that she would just laugh them off.

“I have no feelings”

“Since this incident happened, I have never loved anybody. I don’t know why; I have no feelings. I have a son; he is five months old and it’s so hard to love him and show him all the love. It’s so hard for me to show my son all the love because he deserves it,” she said. In addition, she constantly questions how a man could do something “so bad to hurt you and take all the feelings away from you”.

The young woman who now has a five-month-old baby expressed that she never thought something this bad would happen to her. “You never know one day you’re all happy and then it could just happen to anybody. I never thought it could happen to me; he just took all of my happiness from me.”

After she was brutally raped, the young woman said she did not want to go back to school because everybody was talking about it and had their “own story”. “I was scared to go back to school. I eventually went because I had to go to lessons. I made up my mind to go face everybody. It was hard for me. A lot of days I wasn’t even in my right mind; I was just sailing. A lot of times I was just thinking about all the things the individual told me and thanking God for life; I could have died.”

“I couldn’t talk about my story until now. It was hard being around males because all I could think about was, that I am going to get hurt. If I talked about what I went through, I wanted nobody to pity me,” she wrote in her victim impact statement.

According to her, her late mother and her sister helped her to get through the ordeal.

She said what happened to her has made her sister overprotective. She noted that it was also hard for her mother because people were saying that she was infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Until now, she shared that people still talk about it, and the males in her community would shun her.

“…it was something I had to deal with. My mother was very helpful, and she told me I know my truth and I know my story. A lot of times it would get to me, but I still never let negativity and what people say get to me. I never let it get to me to kill myself.”

Now that she has finally received justice, she is a little sad that her mother is no longer here to see it. She said her mother went with her to every court hearing and listened to her. “I never received counselling, but my mother was a big help because she would ask me a lot of questions and have me talk about my feelings. Talking to my mom at first, I used to cry all the time.”

By constantly talking to her mother about what happened, she was, however, able to tell her friends her story. But this, she noted, was not an easy task for her. The young woman has since implored the court to give Arthur, who is also facing another rape charge, the maximum penalty. The rape convict will be sentenced on May 23 by Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry.

Arthur is currently serving a 15-year jail term for stabbing his ex-lover’s husband to death in 2018. In 2021, he pleaded guilty to a manslaughter charge, admitting that on May 10, 2018, he unlawfully killed 40-year-old taxi driver Claude De Jonge, also known as “Sonno”, of South Amelia’s Ward, Linden.

It was reported that De Jonge was stabbed to death while at the home of his girlfriend, who reportedly once shared a relationship with Arthur. De Jonge was found lying motionlessly in a pool of blood next to the front door of the house. At the time, he was clad in trousers and his body bore several stab wounds to the neck, shoulders, and abdomen.