Government has kept its promise to Grenadians of an increased allocation for Social Services, to help deal with issues such as child sexual abuse and other forms of abuse plaguing our nation.
In his presentation of the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for 2018, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Dr Keith Mitchell revealed that the allocation for the Ministry of Social Development is $39.7 million; an increase of $300,000 from last year’s allotment of $39.4 million.
“Mr Speaker, in addition to the SEED Programme, we have secured grants to the tune of over $3 million from different developmental partners; which will fund a number of Social Protection Programmes in 2018,” Prime Minister Mitchell said.
“Accordingly, for 2018 Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Social Development is allocated $39.7 million.”
The issue of Sexual Violence in particular has been an ongoing concern in recent times, and the Prime Minister says violence of all forms should not be taken for granted. Dr Mitchell says citizens, more specifically, women and children need to be protected; and steps must be taken to ensure this is done immediately.
“It is extremely alarming that in 2017, approximately 60% of all cases before the courts are related to Child Sexual Abuse and other Abuses; a very significant statement. Let us be very clear on this issue of Child Abuse, Rape, in all forms. Whether it is in the workplace or wherever; they are an evil scourge that tears at the Heart of the Social fabric of our society and must be stopped,” the Prime Minister insisted.
“There can be no politics in that; no matter what side of the political fence it comes, it is fundamentally something that has to affect all of us.”
Recently, a National Committee for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse was established, with a mandate to make recommendations to the State and other stakeholders on how to curb the issue. And according to the Prime Minister, in 2018, a Special Victims Unit will be established to further assist victims and their families with counselling and other support services. A Special Hotline will also be installed to offer direction to reporters of abuse.
Dr Mitchell says his government has heeded the call of citizens to establish a Registry for Sex Offenders.
“Sufficient budgetary allocation will be made to implement all planned activities. We have also heard the overwhelming cries of our people and you were therefore pushing to enact the necessary legislative changes for the establishment of a Sex Offenders Registry that all can see,” he said.
“They will be exposed. Let us be very clear; while the government is budgeting more to deal with this issue, it can never be enough to deal with this problem. As a people, our collective consciences must be shaken, and we must find the resolve to take back our communities and protect our children, our young people and our society.’