The Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) is beginning to see a steady increase in the number of reported cases of incest, and a senior woman police officer believes it has now reached an epidemic stage in the country.
Sergeant Maureen John of the Community Relation Department (CRD) of the police force told a radio program that although she does not have the available statistics incest is a cause for concern.
Sgt. John said if in one week within one area there are five reports of incest it is a lot.
“I consider that to be epidemic for such a small island,” she quipped.
The female police officer said RGPF is happy that it is getting the reports, but while the police wish that incest could be prevented they realise that in some cases it is difficult.
The female police officer said she does not believe that there are many people who understand the gravity of the situation until it happens to someone with whom they are acquainted, or it has taken place within their own family.
She stressed that incest is something that is difficult to accept as most of the perpetrators are mainly male relatives of the victim.
According to her, there are fathers, stepfathers and grandfathers who become sexually involved with the young female child of the household.
Sgt. John explained that the act of incest is a sexual relationship that occurs within the same family whether the crime is committed against a minor or an adult.
She said the act of incest can be summed up as being a betrayal of the highest level.
“There are some sick-minded fathers who believe that they have to be the first person to have sex with their daughter,” she told the programme host.
Sgt. John lamented the fact that incest destroys a person’s moral fabric, her emotions, and her psyche.
She felt that many persons in Grenada do not understand that the act of incest has a long lasting effect on affected individuals and can lead to suicide.
She feared that people do not understand the severity of the consequences and implications of incest.
According to Sgt. John, a child who is sexually abused may find it difficult to engage in a healthy and intimate relationship thereafter.
The woman police officer is grateful that the laws have been amended to prosecute parents who are aware of the sexual abuse of their children and fail to report it.
She said teachers and other professionals who come in contact with an abused child and do not report it can also be prosecuted.
Sgt. John said a child wants to know that she is in an environment where she can thrive well, and feel loved and protected.
“It (incest) is something that should not be kept secret, it is something that should not continue to stay uncover, it is something that persons must be willing to talk about, and talk about with the hope of getting help for the individuals that are affected,” she added.