by Grenada National Organisation of Women (GNOW)
Articles circulating on the Internet state that Grenada placed 10th in the world rankings for its high prevalence of rape. This ranking is based on a calculation of 30.6 rape victims per 100,000 — or to put it another way, 3 to 4 rape victims in every 10,000.
Whilst statistics can often be questionable and controversial, this situation is unacceptable. GNOW has for years been highlighting the intolerable and unacceptably high recorded levels of gender-based violence in Grenada.
The statistics on sexual violence in Grenada covering a period of 2001 to 2010, indicate that an average of 152 cases of sexual abuse were reported annually, of which an average of 30 rapes were reported per year. In addition, whilst the age of sexual consent in Grenada is 16, there were 393 births to adolescent mothers, that is, 12 to 15 year olds from 2003 to 2012. If a person is unable to give sexual consent because they are too young to do so, he/she is a victim of sexual abuse, so these figures for adolescent mothers must be included in our national recordings of sexual abuse.
Like the rest of the world, we in Grenada grapple to make life fairer and safer for women and girls. But here, like in other Caribbean islands, we need also to undo the negative consequences of patriarchal systems, and the lasting and negative ramifications of transatlantic slavery — on which much has been written by academic and cultural commentators in our region. It is now generally accepted by all of us wanting a better society “that understanding the multiple forms of male violence against women in the Caribbean requires a historical perspectives that seeks to locate enduring social and ideological structures in the slave system.” – Hilary Beckles (1996).
Whilst GNOW accepts that sexual violence appears to be a lasting legacy of slavery, our history cannot leave us blameless for our behaviour in the present day. “Sexual coercion begins at an early age for Caribbean children, the first sexual experience of young girls is often forced; studies have shown that this was the case for 42.8% of girls below the age of 12.” – World Health Organisation 2002 report on the Caribbean.
In Grenada, non-governmental organisations such as GNOW, the Grenada Legal Aid & Counseling Clinic (LACC), the Grenada National Coalition on the Rights of the Child (GNCRC), the Inter-Agency Group of Development Organisations (IADGO), and the Grenada Human Rights Organization (GHRO), among others, have worked in collaboration over the past 15 years, to drawn attention to the nature and extent of gender-based violence, and in particular sexual violence. We have set up monitoring procedures, highlighted the needs of victims and most importantly we have opened up a national conversation and broken down taboos. We continue to lobby and work for transformational change in terms of public education and law reform which can bring about gender equality and the eradication of gender-based violence.
GNOW with its partners, have collaborated with the Government of Grenada and key United Nations agencies, for example The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), UN Women and Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), to put in place a more responsive justice system which addresses prevention, access to justice and justice for victims of gender-based violence. We have lobbied for more punitive measures to be taken against perpetrators. As a result of our work and lobbying, the Grenada Criminal Code was recently changed in the Domestic Violence Act of 2010, providing stiffer penalties for rape with a maximum of 30 years.
The United Nations Trust Fund (UNTF), Government of Grenada, and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) partnered in a project 2012–2015, which was aimed at addressing Grenada’s perceived cultural tolerance for gender-based violence. This programme is the latest example of Grenada’s determination to bring about societal change to ensure a future of zero tolerance for all types of gender-based violence, most notably intimate partner violence, child abuse, and sexual violence.
J Lorice Pascal (Project Coordinator)
for and behalf of the President of GNOW (Mrs Gloria Payne–Banfield O.B.E.), GNOW’s management and affiliate members.
15 December 2015