I am filled with sadness over the path Dominica is taking. This year has had so many deaths and accidents but what troubles me the most is what seems to be the growing number of Dominica’s unheard children.
We have so many perpetrators in our midst and with a struggling economy, they are thriving by taking advantage of the country’s poverty and desperation. A culture has grown and festered here in Dominica which has become a sort of norm for many. Many are prostituting themselves to survive, some are forced to do so by their own parents, and young girls ‘dating’ older men are accepted or there’s a blinded eye turned to the developing menace.
So many cases of child sexual abuse are being brought to light this year. This is something we have always had a problem with here but it seems to be increasing by the year. The president of Dominica said in his remarks at the National Budget 2022-2023 that data obtained from the Social Welfare Division indicated a 20% increase in the number of reported cases of child abuse over the past 2 years, ranging from sexual abuse, incest, teenage pregnancy, neglect, and physical abuse.
Many people keep quiet about the situation for their own benefit but our children suffer in silence and will continue to suffer especially if we don’t attack this danger from multiple angles. Even though many cases have already been tried by our judicial system for the year, justice has not been served. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) said that Dominica has the most stringent and comprehensive sexual offences act, yet it is not being used to the full extent. For example, a well-known entertainer was granted bail of $25,000 on SIX sex-related charges while a man caught with marijuana was charged $30,000 bail. A popular radio host confessed to soliciting a minor for sexual activities and yet, he is back at his job as if nothing happened. This radio station “Kairi F.M.” also broadcast a show discussing the rise of sexual abuse cases and they were completely insensitive to the victim through the disparaging remarks of some of the hosts and from many of the callers! It disgusted me so much, that I unfollowed the page and continue to encourage others to unfollow them as well.
Where do we place importance? All cases brought to the court earlier this year have either served minimal sentences or been granted bail. In little to no time, the victims will have to face their attacker. We provide no real safety for our children and these pedophiles and perverts do not take the law seriously because they know they can dodge the full extent of the law.
Honourable Raymond Blackmoore, the Minister for Justice, recently commented at a press conference that the Government would take into consideration having a sex offenders’ registry and increasing the age of sexual consent above 16 years. However, I simply believe as soon as the public outcries die down, they will forget all about it. It is because of us citizens standing up and speaking out for our children that the court and the government even came to speak about the situation. Since the public has been making their displeasure known, the court has denied bail.
As a concerned citizen myself, I suggest we continue to apply pressure! Let’s continue to speak out on all major platforms. Let’s continue to have protests and demand justice! Change will never come unless we fight for that change.
- Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela “Former President of South Africa and anti-apartheid revolutionary