By Dr Neals J. Chitan
All indications seem to suggest that despite the natural beauty, the pungent aroma of spices and the friendliness of its people, the island of Grenada is inflicted with a growing anti-social plague that is gnawing at the social fabric of the nation.
As compared to some of its Caribbean neighbors, Grenada has been blessed to historically announce a low rate of homicide which attests to the mild-mannered nature and friendless of its people, thus putting the island high on the list of the Caribbean’s safest destinations. However, at the top of the list of hot topics discussed on local radio programs, in news headlines and social media discussions shared both by nationals at home and in the Diaspora, is the issue of sexual assault and harassment.
This dark demonic sexual virus is not only ravaging the emotional and psychological health of women and teenage victims but has turned with fury on our children, as unsuspecting mothers expose their children to the presence, hands, and crimes of familiar so-called “trusting” pedophiles.
In a front page article captioned “Grenada minister calls for a radical approach to fighting child abuse” published by CARIBUPDATE on December 06, 2016, minister Delma Thomas, ministry for social development, laments the rising tide of sexual abuse incidences on the nation’s children and appeals for a sustainable approach to fight it. Thomas is quoted in the article as suggesting that it is important to address the issue in the schools and communities and called upon the churches to get involved in the fight by using their rostrums to speak out against child abuse.
On August 01, 2018, noted Grenadian-born Psychologist Dr Augustine Panchoo in his article “Before a sex offender registry” spoke out about the rise in child sexual abuse in Grenada and stated that 60 percent of the cases coming before the court are sexual crime cases. Panchoo further commented on the dire need for better legislation and judicial processing that will protect our children while stiffly holding these sex criminals accountable by their necks. Unfortunately, a recent court sentencing that delivered to a pedophile of the “Cloth” a mere EC$1500.00 fine, with absolutely no prison term, has left Dr Panchoo only dreaming of better days.
I too, as an international social skill consultant and crime reduction specialist join Dr Panchoo in his quest for better legislation and stiffer sentences. However, I believe that although these two factors can serve as warnings to the perpetrator, they come into play as a result of and not as a primary deterrent to the hurt and psychological trauma caused to a child by sexual assault. Hence the wisdom of minister Thomas in appealing for a radical approach in 2016.
In the December 06, 2016 CARIBUPDATE article, Thomas brought the good news of the cabinet’s initiative to do all they can to protect our children. However, we are in the final quarter of 2019 and the situation on child abuse seems to be worsening.
In his article, Dr Panchoo alluded to a committee set up by Grenada’s cabinet to pursue every available approach to keep our children safe and deter adult offenders from committing acts against our children and women, while prime minister Keith Mitchell promised to make more money available to fight against incidences of child abuse. And I say, “congratulations on these initiatives” but I am proposing that until we seek a potent mind-rewiring approach that will saturate through the social fabric of life at every level in Grenada and address the issues relating to sexual crimes, the chase will continue.
Here is where our proposal to the Grenada ministries of national security, education, social development, and youth and sport becomes a vital tool.
After finishing a very successful crime reduction campaign in St Kitts-Nevis, we delivered a hardcopy of a powerful three-dimensional proposal to address the roots of sexual crimes across the tri-island state of Grenada to the above-stated ministries. This proposal engages three distinct prongs which include (a) Prevention at high school level (b) Intervention at a community level and (c) Rehabilitation at a holding institutional level.
Although our proposal’s emphasis is on male empowerment, sexual re-education, behavior and decision making, it carries a significant female component for mothers and young women discussing issues around sexual identity, self-affirmation, female dignity and the motherly nurturing of confident and assertive daughters. Designed to undertake a nation-wide campaign, we are prepared and ready to impact 21 high schools, 20 communities, and the adult and juvenile holding institutions simultaneously.
In retrospect, can this be the answer to minister Thomas’ appeal for a radical approach to fighting child abuse in Grenada? Furthermore, can it be the approach for which Dr Mitchell has promised more funding for? If scrutinized closely, I can assure any genuine seeker that we have confidently captured the mitigating factors and are ready to engage hurricane-strength winds of social change across the tri-island state.