The scourge of sexual abuse has in recent times been plaguing the society, with sexual crimes committed against children dominating cases before the high court in its Criminal jurisdiction.
The most recent incident, involving an alleged gang rape of a 12-year old girl has aroused widespread debate in many circles and has effectively prompted the Ministry of Social Development to get into action.
The Ministry, which is headed by female government minister Delma Thomas organised a men’s march against child sexual abuse which was held in the nation’s capital last week Friday.
It was geared at raising awareness and advocated for victims and persons knowledgeable of sexual crimes against children, to break their silence against child sexual abuse.
The march led by men, who were accompanied by women and children, attracted more than 200 concerned citizens, who marched with one voice advocating that “child sexual abuse must stop now.”
The protesters including ministers of government and members of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) converged on the Alleyne Francine Round-a-bout.
They marched into the town of St. George, where the event culminated with a closing ceremony with addresses in front of the Esplanade Mall.
Speaking at the closing, the Social Development Minister was happy that “we can unite on a national issue that affects so many of our nation’s children.
“…I also want to applaud members of the opposition who joined with us to march in solidarity of our children”, said Minister Thomas.
“This speaks volumes brothers and sisters…it speaks to the real issue of child sexual abuse. It is an issue that affects every one of us in spite of our political or religious affiliations”, she added.
In an interview with reporters, the female government minister pointed out that the journey towards eradicating child sexual abuse does not stop with last week Friday’s protest march.
“We will do more than marching on the streets. We will continue to go out into schools (and) communities…we are gonna have community consultations speaking about that issue…”, she said.
“…We need to break the silence, each one of us should be our brother’s keeper. We are also looking to set up a support hotline to support victims (and) perpetrators and families…so a lot more would be done”, she added.
Minister Thomas made mention of the recently appointed “national committee” that has been mandated to “guide government as it relates to the law, (the formation of) a sex offenders registry and in more things that we can do to help prevent sexual abuse among our children.”
The event was supported by the Grenada National Coalition on the Rights of the Child (GNCRC), whose banner was held by two men, one of those being former Soca Monarch, Dave “Boogie B” Peters, with support from the Grenada National Organisation of Women (GNOW), which has been working on the ground to make young people more aware of what has been happening empowering them on how they should react to sexual advances brought onto them.
Other participants of the march included Political Leader of the Congress, Sen. Nazim Burke and his wife, along with other members of the NDC, ministry officials and other concerned citizens of the country.