There has been outrage and condemnation in the country over the rape and murder last weekend of nine-year old Ariel Bolah.
The Group of Civil Society Organisations and the Grenada Steelbands Association have issued strong statements on the killing of young Ariel.
The Civil Society grouping said that it viewed with horror and grief the death of another girl child who became a victim of sexual violence.
Its statement said in part: “While the nation vents its outrage, it is useful that each of us pause in self-reflection and ask the following questions: –
• What society have we created?
• What society are we creating?
• What conditions in our home, community and society could have created someone capable of such a heinous crime?
• Is Grenada becoming an unsafe place for our women and girls?
• What has happened to the time when the village was an extended family and each member of that extended family took responsibility for the protection and upbringing of ALL the family’s children?
• How have we as individuals contributed to such a society as we have now?
In the face of the upcoming general election, the civil society organisation called on the political parties and candidates to outline their policies and programmes to tackle the scourge of sexual abuse in the country.
The statement said: “As our country prepares for the election bell, those who would be our representatives, future law makers and stewards of the people’s affairs must outline their visions and plans to address this scourge of violence against women and children.
“We citizens must rigorously interrogate their proposals which must be inclusive and wholistic.
In extending condolences to the grieving family and friends of the late Ariel, Civil Society called on citizens “to take individual responsibility for making Grenada a place where its women and girls are valued and protected”.
Like Civil Society, the steelbandsmen through its newly elected President, Jason Skeete extended “our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Ariel Bolah”.
“At the Grenada Steelband Association, we are ready and willing to be of assistance in any way that we can, to ensure the preservation of Life, human sanity, and the eradication of all senseless and unlawful actions”, it said.
The statement recognised that, “No amount of words can begin to explain the grief and pain you feel at this moment, and what this tragic incident represents for all of you”.
Skeete told the family: “As President of the Grenada Steel Band Association, I speak for all our members when I say, we condemn the brutal, insensitive, heartless, and coward act by those involved in the lost of this innocent child’s life. We hope and pray that justice will be swift and meaningful.
“I pray that you will find comfort in the Mercy of Almighty God, that His Grace will continue to be your blanket in this time of grief, and most of all His guidance and wisdom will prevail even in the midst of your tragic circumstances.
“Only Almighty God knows and has the ultimate reason why this has happened, and only He will be the ultimate comforter. Rest in Him, cast your burdens upon Him, and He will turn your trials into Testimonies.
The Steelband association also used the occasion to extend sympathy to all those who were victims of sexual abuse in the country.
“We also take the time to sympathies with all those who have been affected by similar circumstances, and to clearly state our total commitment to the eradication (of) these senseless acts of brutality.
“As members of the Steel Band Association, we should also be reminded that there are hundreds of young ones in our midst every day. Some as players in the various steel bands, School steel orchestras, and many as visitors to our pan tents in the various villages and communities.
“We urge everyone to be mindful of the young and vulnerable ones in our presence, and we should always be good examples for them, especially when their parents and guardians are not present, and they are left in our care.
“Our continuous care and concern for them will only help in their overall development.