Saint Lucia: Prime Minister ‘Outraged’ by Sexual Assaults

Edited by Ivan Martínez
2015-11-16 12:40:43

Castries, November 16 (teleSUR-RHC)-- Prime Minister Kenny Anthony added his voice to others expressing growing concern about an increase in reported rapes in Saint Lucia.

While third-quarter crime statistics issued recently by the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force show an overall decline in crime, there was a marked increase in sexual crimes, meaning the small country now sees on average one rape each week. 

Anthony says there must be a collective effort between the police and public to address the problem and that he has recommended the establishment of a special police task force to investigate rape reports.

“For too long we have been silent about sexual violence in our homes and our communities. In many instances, we know there are fathers, uncles, stepfathers and others who commit deviant sexual acts in homes and communities and nothing is said or done.  Quite often the perpetrators are protected. These unreported cases lead to an even greater problem in our society, where these men grow to believe that this is acceptable behavior.  We need to tackle the problems at the root,” he said.

Human rights advocates and feminists are calling for more stringent laws to protect women in Saint Lucia.  The most recent case – involving a 97-year-old woman – has sparked public outrage and calls for harsher penalties for those convicted to assaults against women.

Flavia Cherry is the chair of the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action.  She says it is time for women to stop living in fear of being attacked. 

“We expect the state to step in and employ the various laws and regulations and penalties for those who go beyond the scope of the law.  In this case, it is very disgusting because you cannot have women living in a society where they are afraid to open their doors. They are afraid to walk down the street. This is not acceptable,” she said.

The prime minister argues that the current laws of Saint Lucia are not lenient on sexual crimes. He says someone convicted of rape could face life behind bars. 

However, Anthony said, while the law agrees with activists, that sex offenders can be given life sentences, “at the end of the day, it is the judge that makes the decision as to the sentence of an offender.”

The Royal Saint Lucia Police announced Thursday that, through its Vulnerable Persons Unit and Criminal Investigations Department, it is implementing a new crime strategy to tackle the increase in rapes and other sexual assaults.


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