Safehouse for child victims of sexual violence a priority in the 2019 budget

Delma Thomas

by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada

  • 2019 Budget presentation to allocate resources for emergency shelter safehouse
  • Programme to provide housemothers, social workers, and counsellors trained to deal with child victims

This year’s 2019 Budget presentation will announce plans to allocate resources for the establishment of an emergency shelter ‘safehouse’ for female and male child victims of sexually related crimes – considered the first of its kind in Grenada.

The programme, to be housed at an undisclosed location, is set to provide housemothers, social workers, and counsellors trained to deal with child victims.

Minister for Social Development Delma Thomas, sees this initiative as a priority under her ministry as sexually related crimes and abuse continue to be an all-too-common problem. Statistics provided by the police during the launch of the Special Victims Unit and Hotline to deal specifically with victims, indicated that from the period of January to July 2018, the number of sexually related crimes have increased by 13% over the same period for 2017 moving from 230 to 259.

The victims of sexual violence crimes are predominantly children between the ages of 5 and 16 and account for 67 of 148 cases in the September 2018 assizes.

Minister Thomas said the government is in the process of locating a suitable building to house victims. “We have been looking at 2 buildings: 1 in St George and 1 in St Andrew, but it is only one we will be purchasing so that information will be revealed shortly.”

According to the sensitive nature of the case, Minister Thomas envisaged that a child would have to be permanently removed from their home to reside in the safehouse.

“The children will be in a family home where there are caregivers and people who are capable of dealing with victims. In cases where the child is in school, sometimes according to the case it may be better to remove that child to another school because we are a small nation and if everybody knows that you were raped or so, you as a child will not want to return to your school for fear of being stigmatised. We are also looking for foster parents, so maybe we can have a medium where we can encourage mothers and parents to assist in terms of fostering children. But the fact is that we are not getting foster parents coming forward, and therefore we as a government have a responsibility to protect our girls and our boys.”

On 24 September, the police in conjunction with FLOW Grenada and Hexive Creative Agency will activate an emergency hotline under the ‘Stand 4 zero tolerance’ campaign where victims of sexual abuse can call for help.

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