A Range Of Tools To Be Used In Fight.
MOMENTUM is building for a strong response from the State to the spate of rapes that have been recorded in the country with measures such as pepper spray and a sex offenders list, among other things, being suggested.
But while the forces are being arrayed to fight the rape scourge Catherine Sealys of “Raise Your Voice St. Lucia Inc.” is noting the lack of legislation to support the above measures, advocating instead the re-opening of the forensic lab at Tapion, the implementation of the OECS Family Law Bill and Child Act as better measures in the short term which would take care of several problems faced by women and children.
“You would have to make amendments to the Criminal Code to bring some of these measures like a sex offenders list into reality,” she told The VOICE.
The police force is also formulating its own plans to fight the current wave of rape cases being reported although it was unable to say yesterday exactly how many incidents have been reported so far this year.
Severin Moncherry, who took over the post of police commissioner yesterday, announced the activation of a special sexual assault team tasked with countering the spate of rapes in the country but working in tandem with the Vulnerable Persons Unit, which is a team of trained police officers selected to handle the crime itself and the victims.
“I will be putting a team in place very soon responsible for reviewing all rape cases that we have had, looking at patterns and putting in place special patrols aimed at detection and prevention of rapes, especially in the north of the island,” he said.
The new police commissioner added that there soon will be police surveillance using modern technology in both the north and south of the island.
“We are hoping that with this new team in place we will be able to at least not only reduce these rape cases but also bring some of those perpetrators to justice,” Moncherry said, adding that the police force will be using every bit of the resources at its disposal to ensure that women are not violated in the country.
Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony has added his voice to the debate about tougher measures to deal with rapists suggesting that a serious look be taken at an idea he made months ago for establishing a sex offenders’ list.
Health Minister Alvina Reynolds is also in favour of this move.
“In the short term, apart from the realization of the pepper spray and sex offenders list there could be a permanent special victims’ court. This I am proposing because there is a backlog of rape and sexual offences that have not been dealt with in the courts. Imagine a court case in 2008 and in 2016 it has not been dealt with. There has not been a conviction and the perpetrator is on the road. It is because of these rapists becoming so emboldened. They have no fear,” Minister Reynolds said, calling for swift justice for rape victims.
“From the time of arrest to going to court and prosecution, this must be swift. Justice must be done and swiftly,” Reynolds said.
Some of the measures being advocated in the short, medium, and long term to deal with the wave of rapes in the country include arming women with pepper sprays, teaching them self-defence, creating a sex offenders list that would scar the rapist for life, a change of how rapes are evidenced in court, among other things.
“We are declaring war on rapists, however, we are not declaring war on men…,” Reynolds was quick to note at a discussion Thursday with a cross section of the society, both men and women.
The spike in rape incidents here, from last year to now, has blown the lid off a crime that has been hush hush over the years in its reporting.
Although part of a broad crime category called ‘Sexual Offences’, rape has managed to draw nationwide attention when last year it increased by 25 percent compared to the year before, while other crimes under the umbrella of sexual offences registered decreases or no change, according to police. An example of this is gross indecency which decreased by 70 percent.