Rape Out­rage Con­tin­ues!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Toni Ni­cholas

Sto­ries, out­cries and out­rage were ram­pant last week (in­clud­ing a story in last week­end’s STAR) on the in­crease in re­ported in­ci­dents of rape. To date there have been more than forty re­ported cases of rape in Saint Lucia for the year and more than 30 re­ported in­ci­dents of per­sons un­der the age of 12 be­ing sex­u­ally vi­o­lated.

Then, this week an­other hor­ror story of rape - a 97-year-old woman of Mon Re­pos was al­legedly raped and bug­gered in her own home. This story has again sparked out­rage in the com­mu­nity with call­ers to var­i­ous talk shows de­mand­ing stiffer penal­ties for per­pe­tra­tors. Se­na­tor Mary Isaac has gone so far as ask­ing for the life sen­tence to be ap­plied to per­sons found guilty of rape.

But how long be­fore the talk­ing stops and it is back to busi­ness as usual? How long be­fore the dis­cus­sions cease and se­ri­ous ac­tion is taken?

In a state­ment this week prime min­is­ter Kenny An­thony added his voice to the is­sue. He de­scribed the in­creased re­ports of rape across the is­land as “a wor­ry­ing trend”. “For too long we have been silent about sex­ual violence in our homes and our com­mu­ni­ties. In many in­stances, per­sons know there are fa­thers, un­cles, step­fa­thers and oth­ers who com­mit de­viant sex­ual acts in homes and com­mu­ni­ties and noth­ing is said or done,” An­thony said.

“Quite of­ten the per­pe­tra­tors are pro­tected. Th­ese un­re­ported cases lead to an even greater prob­lem in our so­ci­ety, where th­ese men grow to be­lieve that this is ac­cept­able be­hav­iour. We need to tackle the prob­lems at the root,” he added in the press state­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to the prime min­is­ter, he has rec­om­mended to Act­ing Com­mis­sioner Er­rol Alexan­der that a spe­cial unit be es­tab­lished within the Royal Saint Lucia Po­lice Force to in­ves­ti­gate rape cases and to also build a data­base that stores DNA ev­i­dence to de­ter­mine whether some of th­ese cases are be­ing com­mit­ted by re­peat of­fend­ers. “We have se­rial rapists at large,” he says.

The prime min­is­ter ex­pressed hope that the in­tended re­open­ing of the foren­sic lab­o­ra­tory, un­der new man­age­ment, would bet­ter as­sist po­lice in con­duct­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions and test­ing DNA sam­ples.

He stressed, how­ever, that the first, most im­por­tant re­sponse is that peo­ple re­port known sex of­fend­ers.

But how com­fort­ing are the prime min­is­ter’s words, know­ing full well that the coun­try’s laws do not in­clude hav­ing a sex of­fend­ers registry? Added to that, al­leged per­pe­tra­tors are also pro­tected by the state, and their iden­ti­ties can­not be re­vealed, not even by the me­dia.

As min­is­ter of fi­nance, the prime min­is­ter has also cut the spend on the po­lice, as an­nounced in the last bud­get and the courts and jus­tice sys­tem re­mains in sham­bles. Rape cases, like so many other cases, take for­ever to pros­e­cute in Fair He­len.

The prime min­is­ter al­luded to the “in­tended re­open­ing” of the foren­sic lab, a lab that has been be­lea­guered with is­sues since its open­ing and was shut down ear­lier this year. How long be­fore the lab will be not just re­opened but fully op­er­a­tional and equipped to deal with rape and other crime?

While th­ese and many other ques­tions re­main unan­swered, in light of the re­cent in­crease in re­ported rape and other sex­ual of­fences, the Royal Saint Lucia Po­lice Force, through its Vul­ner­a­ble Per­sons Team and Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment, this week an­nounced that it has im­ple­mented “new strate­gies”.

Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the RSLPF it is ex­pected that this new strat­egy will not only as­sist in min­i­miz­ing the oc­cur­rence of rape in­ci­dents on the is­land, but also in­crease the ar­rest rate of of­fend­ers.

The Act­ing Deputy Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice, Sev­erin Monch­ery has stated: “No stone will be left un­turned as the RSLPF seeks to bring a stop to the at­tacks by those who prey on vul­ner­a­ble per­sons in Saint Lucia.”

On the re­cent in­ci­dents of rape, po­lice say they have one per­son as­sist­ing with in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the al­leged rape this week of the 97-year-old woman. Ad­di­tion­ally a Ja­maican se­cu­rity guard was for­mally charged for rape in con­nec­tion with an in­ci­dent, which occurred on Re­duit beach, Rod­ney Bay on the night of Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 31st, 2015.

And in con­nec­tion with the gang rape of two 16-year-old fe­males in Rod­ney Bay, Gros Islet, three males are re­port­edly in cus­tody as­sist­ing with the in­ves­ti­ga­tions. DNA sam­ples from the sus­pects have been sent over­seas for test­ing, po­lice have con­firmed.

While the be­lea­guered RSLPF should be com­mended for its of­fi­cers’ ac­tions, it re­mains to be seen how swiftly the hands of jus­tice move in bring­ing the per­pe­tra­tors to jus­tice. Or will they, like so many oth­ers, lan­guish at Borde­lais on re­mand?

Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony: Will he put words into ac­tion in deal­ing with the

se­rial rapists he says ex­ist among us?

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