As the discussion on child sexual abuse continues to rage in Dominica, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. David Johnson, is calling for legislative ammendments so that it will be an offense to have knowledge of a child sex-related crime and not report it or hide it.
He was speaking at a Stakeholder’s Consultation on Response to Rape/Sexual Assault Protocol on Thursday 28th May 2015 at the APU Conference centre at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).
“It is my opinion that those who are aware that a child is sexually abused and do nothing about it are just as guilty as the perpetrators,” he noted. “Our Sexual Offences Legislation must therefore be amended to ensure that all those who are aware of Rape/Sexual Assaulted committed against a minor and do not report it are guilty of an offence. It can no longer be business as usual.”
He called on society to “condemn” these acts of crime as the protocol can’t do it alone.
“There has to be an of all-society approach to address this huge problem,” he stated. “Society has to condemn these acts of crime. No one, irrespective of relationship to the child, status in society, colour of their skin or hair, financial power or other types of power, or people who know people who know people,’ must be allowed to continue to commit these criminal offences against minors.”
He stated that no one must remain silent on the matter.
“If we are not part of the solution, then we are part of the problem,” he noted.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Helen Royer, who also addressed the function, said the protocol has been developed from the recommendations of medical experts based on best practices.
“It is intended to be used by health care providers to ensure comprehensive care of sexual assault patients,”she said. “It is important because priority medical care is to be provided to the sexual assault patient with sensitivity, culturally appropriate and respectful manner regardless of when the sexual assault occurred.”
Royer added that the type of care received will lead a victim on the “process of becoming a survivor.”
Stakeholders at the consultation included officials from the Ministries of Health, Legal Affairs, Social Services and National Security.