Letters & Opinion, News

Too Many Cold Cases of Violence Against Girls and Women; It’s Time to Act!

On February 18th, 2021, the Executive of the Saint Lucia National Youth Council (SLNYC) learnt of the alleged sexual abuse of two girls, ages three (3) and eight (8) via a news report carried by MBC Television. In the report, the mother stated that, while she was in Martinique, she received news that her older daughter was unwell and she immediately returned to Saint Lucia to take her to the doctor.

It was further stated that after a series of doctor visits, the mother discovered that both of her daughters contracted a sexually transmitted disease referred to as Gonorrhea. The mother went on to express that reports had since been made to the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force and the Department of Gender Affairs. Consequently, the younger daughter was placed into the father’s care. The older one has since been suffering from anxiety attacks each time she sees the alleged perpetrator.

The Saint Lucia National Youth Council condemns all forms of violence against women and girls and calls on the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force to launch an immediate investigation into the situation. Time and time again we continue to witness little to no attention placed on abuse against women and girls. We cannot continue to live with a Justice System which was designed to protect us, yet not working for us. Violence against women and girls are serious acts that receive high condemnation under the Constitution of Saint Lucia and no woman or young girl who has suffered such fate deserves to be fighting a lone battle.

We lament not only the issue of Crime and Violence but equally on the pre-existing social factors that trigger such heinous acts. Reports from the findings of research conducted by UNICEF on “The Situational Analysis of Children in Saint Lucia” were extremely alarming. The findings highlighted that the number of child abuse cases reported over the period of 2010-2015 totalled 1,341. Sexual Abuse was the most common type of reported child abuse, accounting for 34 per cent (34%) of all reported cases. Generally, girls account for over 70 per cent (70%) of the victims. The 12 to 16-year-old group are most often victims and the majority of total cases are incest.

To date, these numbers have grown immensely and should not be taken lightly. These young girls need to regain trust in the Justice System. Every report is one too many. We may not be able to control the minds of perpetrators but we can ensure that they are sanctioned for their acts. With Sexual Abuse comes added mental distress and other associated psychological traumas. How will we deal with the repercussions of compounded experiences of sexual, physical and mental abuse among our women and girls if the system lacks the requisite resources?

These issues demand special attention and the longer the delay in justice, the more apparent it becomes that justice is denied. Our system doesn’t need another cold case added to the list of statistics that include the cases of Giselle Georges, Kimberly Du Leon, Sadia Byron and so many others compiled on the shelves of our judicial system.

Parents have the first responsibility to provide social and emotional security to their children. Our
community and national institutions ought to play their part in raising our children as well. Positive parenting and healthy socialization are two critical factors in raising children. The onus is on all of us to ensure that we educate our children on present and potential dangers in our society, while cultivating a relationship of trust with them; whereby they become comfortable with confiding in at least one person, especially when they are in need of help. Additionally, parents must consider trusted child-supervision alternatives so as to ensure their safety and comfort at all times.

We call on the Minister of National Security and the Government of Saint Lucia to prioritize investments in judicial resources such as manpower, equipment and funding of support units that will aid the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force and our Judicial System in combating Crime and Violence on the island. Investments into education and sensitization on sexual abuse are critical so that early signs can be detected, dealt with accordingly, and ultimately prevented.

Saint Lucia is approximately two weeks away from celebrating International Women’s Day along with the rest of the world. We can and we must do better for our girls, our women and the broader society!!!

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