INDIVIDUAL voices are speaking out against rising violent crimes against both males and females that are pushing homicides rates to levels unforeseen in the past.
January is not yet over and already three homicides have been recorded with police waiting on certain information that may very well see them chalking up a possible fourth case for the year so far.
The violence of last year seems to have spilled into this year evidence of which surfaced just this past weekend when the naked body of an unidentified female was discovered on the Pigeon Island Causeway sparking nationwide outrage.
Old and new media were buzzing with reports of the discovery, outraged that the photo of the victim, in all its savagery, was circulated across media platforms.
Police have yet to determine the identity of the body yet photos of a particular young lady were on heavy rotation on social media claiming to be the deceased.
One media house went as far as interviewing a man said to be the father of the deceased, while another attempted to get a comment from the supposedly mother.
Outrage at the discovery of the dead woman reached the highest offices in the land with Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party expressing sadness at the death of the young woman.
Also expressing abhorrence to such a crime was Minister of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development, Gale Rigobert.
Like the Prime Minister, Rigobert expressed outrage at violence perpetrated against women in general, pointing to last week where reports of the rape of a woman in Jacmel surfaced.
“Both acts are reprehensible and should be condemned. “The femicide, though itself horrendous and unimaginable, is accompanied with the equally despicable widespread circulation of the image of this victim within minutes of the discovery of her lifeless body,” Dr. Rigobert says.
The Minister went on to point out that increased incidence of more extreme forms of gender-based violence like femicide, and the apparent desensitization of our citizens to the horror of violence, underscores the grim reality, that deeply rooted inequalities and harmful gender norms, continue to pervade our society.
“My plea to the general public is for us to demonstrate a sense of community, by each person finding their voice to advocate for and looking out for our most vulnerable. I am also calling on everyone to step up our collective efforts, to strongly condemn all acts of gender-based and other forms of violence in our beautiful island,” Minister Rigobert said.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet also spoke about the latest attacks on women: “Sadly I am here today because we’ve heard over the last couple of days of two heinous crimes that have taken place. One, of a female who was raped in Jacmel and the body of another female that was discovered at Pigeon Island. First let me say my condolences to all family members, I know how difficult this must be and how shocking it is and all of our heartfelt warmth, prayers go out to you today and to be assured of all of our continued support. I also want to say how grieved I am, how upset I am that we still have these types of crimes taking place in our society,” Chastanet said.
He said that when he was in opposition his administration had identified this as a priority area and had repeatedly said to the public that there is no one solution to this problem.
“This takes a holistic approach to solve. We first have the police force which needed to be strengthened and we’ve been doing so: better communications systems, CCT cameras, new vehicles, better training and recently promotions for those officers and physically improving their offices as well as their own personal facilities,” Chastanet said.
To underscore his point of taking a holistic approach to fighting serious crime the Prime Minister spoke of the construction of the new police headquarters, the strengthening of the forensic lab, noting that a lack of evidence makes convictions impossible. The lab, he said, has new equipment and is fully operational and will be doing all of the forensic investigations on the crime scenes.
“We’ve now added a DNA testing lab to help strengthen the forensic lab,” he said.
On the subject of domestic and child abuses the Prime Minister said thus: “We must recognize that, particularly for domestic abuse, and child abuse, the signs are there from early and clearly we have failed as a society in being able to put the mechanisms in for persons to be able to report this, and also for the sensitivity of information and how we deal with the victims themselves, and so we have been strengthening our social systems to be able to address that and we have to do a better job of sharing information between nurses, teachers, sports officers and social workers as well as better educating the public on identifying abuse cases and how to be able to report it.”
He added, “Sadly we have been waiting for incidents like what have happened recently to take place before we become outraged. We must be outraged at the loss of any life through domestic abuse.”