Sex and politics in Guyana

PNC Leader Aubrey Norton has been accused by a prominent executive of the PNC, Vanessa Kissoon, of sexually harassing her some years ago. According to Ms Kissoon, Chairman of Reg 10, Sharma Solomon, had asked Mr Norton to give her a ride up to Linden, but, en route, the latter stopped his car, pulled out his gun, and asked what she would do if he demanded sex with her. She claimed her answer was a scatologically-laden “NO!”, and Mr Norton did not persist, but continued to Linden. Ms Kissoon says she was traumatized.
Mr Norton has unequivocally denied the charge, asserting he was never alone in a car with Ms Kissoon. He claims this was clearly an ambush before the party’s Congress, where the election of the PNC Leader is scheduled.
The alleged incident became public, in fact, when another candidate’s supporter wrote a letter to the press about it. Evidently, Ms Kissoon had recounted the incident to some colleagues.
The nation recently had to process even more graphic allegations of actual rape, brought a year ago by a 16-year-old Amerindian girl against PPP Minister Nigel Dharamlall. He was arrested and placed on bail, and sent of leave by President Ali. The child later withdrew her claim, and no charges were filed. However, earlier this year, there was then another charge of rape being committed by the same individual on another young female – this time an employee in his Ministry, which he also denied. The matter was turned over to the police, and he was arrested and placed on bail. The police conducted an inquiry, then announced it had received legal advice indicating that there was insufficient evidence to charge Dharamlall in relation to the rape and sexual assault allegations. The police also detailed a series of “inconsistencies” in the accusations.
These accusations appear to give credence to an aphorism attributed to the sensualist Oscar Wilde: “Everything in the world is about sex, except sex. Sex is about power.” It would appear that whatever the truth of the allegations, they have to do more with individuals possessing power, who seem compelled to utilize that power to satisfy sexual urges. One is reminded of another PNC leader, Robert Corbin, then Dep PM and Min of Agriculture, being accused in 1986 of violently raping the daughter of a prominent doctor/businessman and supporter of the PNC, who had visited his office seeking an import licence. He was suspended from his office by Pres Desmond Hoyte to facilitate a police investigation.
However, then DPP George Jackman threw out the case saying, “I have decided…that after full and careful examination of the results of what I consider to have been a thorough police investigation into the matter, I have concluded that there is not sufficient basis on which I could institute any criminal proceedings against him.”
Both Cheddi Jagan of the PPP and Eusi Kwayana of the WPA asked the DPP to offer details as to what evidence was missing, but to no avail. Corbin resumed his office, and went on to lead the PNC.
But the connection between power and sex – and with no repercussions – was illustrated even more graphically in the new biography of Forbes Burnham by Dr Linden Lewis, in which he “reflected on the libidinal proclivities of Burnham, rumours of which had circulated for years. It seems that the president was quite a philanderer…Indeed, those who knew him well spoke of the crudeness of his approach towards women he found sexually desirable.” As to the consequences of his conquests, his oldest daughter, Roxanne, revealed to Dr Lewis: “I not only have a sense (of the existence of other children), I know most of them because my father made it his business to introduce them to me. There are thirteen. In 1969, he sat me down and told me about the other children…they were all girls.” His first wife Sheila Lataste – Roxanne’s mother – who divorced Burnham in 1967, said about this side of Burnham, “Politics and the ladies got to me, so I just picked up my children and returned to Trinidad.”
In the present accusations against Norton, a self-appointed committee of “PNC Elders” has announced it would be conducting an Inquiry into Ms Kissoon’s allegations. However, we believe it would be best if an impartial investigation by the police and evaluation by the DPP is conducted. At least the form of the law would be followed.