by Donella Hosten
Child Sexual Abuse continues to be a plaguing issue within today’s society and a number of non-governmental organisations, civil society groups and committees are taking action against the perpetrators of such crimes.
This undesirable spate of child abuse cases is to be treated as a national situation, and not one for political mileage. The public’s outcries over the past few weeks gave rise to a Men’s March Against Child Sexual Abuse, endorsed by the Ministry of Social Development, which took place on Friday evening, from the Alleyne Francique roundabout and and into the town of St George.
The participants included students, cadets, ministers, public workers, doctors and other supporters of the cause. They were laden with placards displaying messages of disgust to the perpetrators and cries for help for the victims.
Throughout the duration of the march, there were a number of speakers who implored the general public of their duty to mandatorily report any instance of child sexual abuse, so that the matter can be speedily dealt with.
On Saturday, 16 September there was a motorcade for the same cause, organised by some members of the media. They began on Port Highway in St George, making their way around the island stopping at various points to hear messages from different speakers, before concluding at Morne Rouge Playing Field.
Former Minister for Education, Senator Franka Bernadine of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has confirmed her party’s commitment to continue to do their utmost best to protect the nation’s women and children. She stated that while the NDC was in power, measures were put in place to rectify a number of items including the National Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Protocol. “Despite the limited budget and the struggle that we have had, we have been able to make an input and take a stance…,” however, much more has to be done through the inclusion of other societal organisations.
The senator insisted that as a nation, there must be a zero-tolerance approach to this plaguing issue, and mentioned the possibility of having a ‘special victims unit’ to appropriately handle such matters, from victims to perpetrators.
For the first half of the year, according to statistics from the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF), there have been 189 reported case of sexual abuse. Notably, child abuse does not end when the abuse stops, especially if the matter is not dealt with in the correct manner, and the abused does not get the necessary assistance. This trauma can be carried into adulthood.
Ann John, NDC’s Caretaker for St Patrick East, during the party’s weekly press conference on Monday, 18 September joined in solidarity with persons fighting to end these despicable crimes. “It is not something that people like to talk about,” she began, but it must be addressed. “One child being sexually abused is one too many,” she continued, saying that as a Christian society, something must be done.
John reminded the nation that Grenada has signed on to and ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child, which simply put, means the state has the responsibility to ensure that the nation’s children are protected.
She went on to speak about proactive and preventative measures, that should be put in place in order to avoid such drastic increases taking place over the years. She believes that the ministry should be blamed, as they are inconsistent with their initiatives and community outreach programmes.