A tropical paradise has become a living hell for women

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Dear Sir:

During the last 18 years, the Caribbean paradise island of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has become a living hell for women. Rape and molestation accompanied by the brutality of beatings, torture, and murder have become so commonplace in the mainland island of St Vincent that almost daily news reports of ever worse circumstances appear. The situation is out of control, and the politicians in power are doing almost nothing to relieve the condition. The opposition party is trying hard, but they are not in power and are limited in what they can do.

Among the latest cases and reports seemingly are of a nurse who is a mother being “shot dead by her husband” at her son’s school where she had gone to collect him. Shot in the head and cradled in the arms of her young son before being taken to the hospital and pronounced dead.

The public is calling for “a thorough investigation” into how the police responded to Arianna Taylor-Israel’s complaints that her life was threatened before she was shot and killed. Friends say she had complained 28 times to the police that her husband had threatened her life, the police say it was just three. Twenty-eight or three, the police took no action whatsoever regarding the woman’s complaints. None action by the Vincentian police is pretty standard and holds back even more women complaining to them. The police have an ongoing history of doing nothing to help women, especially when there is a political connection.

For years now, women have complained that when they go to a police station, officers tell them to go home and behave themselves. They have even been laughed and jeered at when trying to complain formally. Women are asked questions in the outer public office instead of being asked within the confines of an interview room.

Little of this went on 20 years ago. Still, St Vincent in 2007, had the third-highest rate of recorded rapes after The Bahamas and Swaziland, according to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime document cited by the report. UN statistics showed that in 2011, St Vincent was the fourth-worst country worldwide when it came to its rate of recorded rapes.

Between 2000 and 2011, 60 women died from gender-based violence or at the hands of their partner — a staggering figure considering the gross under-reporting of cases and St Vincent’s tiny 2011 population of 109,400. Université du Québec à Montréal’s International Clinic for the Defence of Human Rights and the St Vincent and the Grenadines Human Rights Association. “In response to this cultural epidemic, the state of St Vincent and the Grenadines does not provide adequate protection to women.”

During that period, more than 4,490 Vincentians — four percent of the current population sought asylum in Canada, the majority being women.

Vincentian women were seeking asylum, and court documents suggest that almost all were fleeing violence. When abuse does occur, the woman’s quest for justice often ends at the police station. Under St Vincent’s Domestic Violence Act — which considers domestic abuse a civil matter, not a criminal one — police are not even legally obligated to investigate. According to a report of that time by the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board. Although officers receive gender-sensitivity training, victims are often met with “gross, disrespectful, chauvinistic, young male police officers who feel that the victim asked for what she received.”

January 4, 2020. attack on Vincentian resident, Monique Hutchins, who was beaten in the face with a hammer, allegedly by a former lover.

January 29,2020, a voice note was circulated via social media, in which a woman pleaded with a man to stop beating her, as he threatened to kill her in a vehicle.

January 29, 2020, photos and voice messages began circulating on social media, this time, surrounding the brutal chopping in the face with a sharp cutlass of a Vincentian woman, allegedly by two other female villagers.

Rape is such a problem, little girls as young as five years, and great grandmothers as old as 85 have been raped. Women raped on beaches after dark or walking home from work, no woman or child is safe anywhere at any time of the night or day.

Like all crime, there is a need to be tough; it is essential that strict punishment is not just administered, but is seen to be tough. Unfortunately, judges and magistrates are not tough on almost any crime in SVG. The prisons are overflowing, including a massive state of art prison built by the current administration — cells built for two house ten, if they imprison more, where will they put them.

Jolly Green

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