A senior Government Minister is calling for stricter legislation to be put in place to deal with sex offenders amidst the growing trend of sexual offences committed against the nation’s children.
Education Minister, Anthony Boatswain, made the call last week Wednesday pointing to shocking statistics of reported child sexual abuse cases.
In presenting a Ministerial statement to the Lower House of Parliament, Minister Boatswain informed the House that “107 cases were reported in 2015 (with) 42 cases (reported so far) in 2016.”
This, he said, “might just be the tip of the iceberg,” adding that, “we know as a fact (that) a number of cases are not reported due to fear that the predator might do something, or even because there might be collusion among certain family members to uphold such behaviour.”
The Education Minister expressed concern that when accused perpetrators are arrested and charged, “they go (out) on bond and (literally) return to society amongst the same people that they abused.”
This, he said, “is instilling fear in the young people,” and that “as a government, I do not believe that we can do nothing less than to act and we must act collectively Mr. Speaker with the rest of society because this is a menace that is destroying the future of our country.”
Minister Boatswain feared that sexual abuse amongst the nation’s children has become a “style” for the predators, who feel because “somebody else do it and get away I could do it (and get away with (it)” as well.
He said, “95% of reported cases of sexual abuse against children involve young girls, (and) now the numbers keep rising among young boys as well…”.
He disclosed that within the last four years, 533 school children were infected with Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and some have became pregnant almost bringing an end to their school life.
“I hope that something would be done soon to arrest this trend and to ensure that those who engage in such behaviour do receive a maximum sentence. Not what is there now but, what I would like to see in terms of legislative reform,” he said.
In light of the increase in sexual related offences against children in the country, the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) recently embarked upon a sensitisation drive to educate students and to send a strong message to perpetrators that there will be a level of zero tolerance for such crimes.
The Police Force along with hundreds of school children engaged in two marches at Grenville, St. Andrew and in St. David against sex related crimes.