by Donella Hosten
The alarming rise in the number of sexual assault cases among children, teenagers and the elderly over the past few months has caught the attention of many Grenadians.
According to statistics from the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF), from January to June 2017, there have been over 150 reported cases of sexual offences. Unfortunately, in many of these instances, most of the individuals accused have been granted bail, causing a public outcry.
Many parents have expressed deep concerns about their children’s safety, and continue to call on the necessary authorities and organisations to intervene. One of the latest matters heard, was that of Calvin Fletcher, a resident of Conference in St Andrew. He attempted to rape a 75-year-old woman of Carrier in St Andrew.
Fletcher made his second appearance on Monday, 4 September 2017 at the Grenville Magistrate’s Court, and was represented by Attorney-at-Law Anselm Clouden. In addition to bail being granted in the amount of $15,000 with 1 surety, the court requested that Fletcher relocate to St George and have no contact with the victim. He is also required to report to the South St George Police Station at least once a week.
Not too long ago, 3 young men from the northern part of the island were slapped with a joint rape charge. The men allegedly gang-raped a 12-year-old girl on Carnival Sunday in St Patrick. They were granted bail in the amount of $40,000 with 2 sureties.
After hearing about the increased numbers of sexual offences, Cabinet appointed a National Committee to develop a work plan to deal with the issue.
During the weekly Post Cabinet Briefing, Hon Delma Thomas, Minister of Social Development, noted that child abuse affects everyone within the society, and this committee has been mandated by Cabinet to make the necessary recommendations and implementations in order to effectively address sexual abuse in this country.
Executive members of the committee include, Yvonne Da Breo, Director of the Child Protection Authority(CPA); Ann David Antoine, Chair CPA, Ursla Antoine; Jacqueline Sealy-Burke, Director of Legal Aid and Counselling Clinic; Officer Errlyn Garraway, CRD and Lady Anande Trotman-Joseph, President of the Grenada Bar Association. The executive will be ably assisted by a number of NGOs, youth groups and other organisations throughout Grenada. They will be engaging in community outreach programmes and will be collaborating with competent consultants, coordinators and counsellors.
There has been recent talk about the development of a public Sex Offenders Registry, which, according to Minister Thomas, will be undertaken by the Ministry of Legal Affairs.
Speaking about the heightening number of reports being made to the Police, Trotman-Joseph accredited it to the advocacy of many of the NGOs. She said, this issue is of national importance, and urged persons to have a ‘national conversation.’
“This is a matter of governance. It is a matter that all of us have to own together and address together said Trotman-Joseph. Additionally, she revealed that the boys are being targeted and interfered with. “A paedophile has no sexual preference Therefore, this must be put on the front burner. If we don’t fix this problem at this point in our history then we may have paradise, but what happens to those of us who inhabit paradise?”
She reiterated that abuse in any form affects person’s entire lives, and she stated the need for policies with life-cycle approaches.
Also addressing the matter was Officer Garraway, who urged parents and guardians to continue to protect their children, as they ‘are our future.’ She reminded the public about their duty of mandatory reporting, should they be aware of such heinous acts being committed.
According to her, there are 3 elements involved in crimes: the intention, the opportunity and the desire. Although one may be unable to take away the intention and the desire of the paedophile, persons can assist with taking away the opportunity.
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