The hysteria that has engulfed my nation over the dehumanizing photos of a 16-year-old girl posted on Facebook, I posit, was deserved. However, there is a real problem associated with the photos that has not received the outrage it should have. I am speaking of the sexual abuse of our women and girls.
The reactions to the photos showing up on Facebook called upon the government to intercede and do something about the photos being on Facebook, which they heeded. Immediately the government announced a Bill called the “Electronic Crime Bill,” which seeks to hold people criminally liable for posting “offensive” material online – Electronic Crime Bill section 6.
The Bill itself triggered a backlash on the government. According to many Grenadians, the Bill appears to be too vague and far-reaching. Many argued that it seems to attack our constitutional right of freedom of speech; an attempt, by the government, to silence dissent, and quiet media and journalists from critiquing the administration.
Indeed, the initial outrage over the photos on Facebook and the subsequent push back on the government’s attempt to use the outrage to push through this ambiguous Bill is certainly warranted.
There is, however, the criminal act of sexual abuse of minors that this child fall victim to, and needs to receive the same, and/or even more outrage, and it has not. For that, I am outraged!
A headline posted on January 24, 2013, in The New Today reads “Bus Drivers Charged with Rape.” The story went on to point out that “Statistics provided to this newspaper by the Criminal Records Office of the RGPF show that from January to October 2012 there were 24 cases of rape, 78 cases of incest, defilement of a female 43, and indecent assault 77.” It went on to state that “From among the 25 sexual offenses that were on the case list for October 2012 Criminal Assizes, there were 12 cases of rape.”
I site these statistics to demonstrate what our country is dealing with. Crimes against women, some argues, are on the rise. It is known that Grenada has an epidemic of adult males sexually violating young school girls, (boys too); committed mostly by bus drivers (of course not excluding male school teachers and fathers).
There is a story in Caribbean News Now, posted June 19, 2013, that speaks of a ten-year-old girl child sexually abused by her father, who, according to the story, was left in the custody of the father by the Chief Magistrate, after hearing the facts of the case. Yes, you heard right. The Chief Magistrate left the child in the hand of the sexual deviant! Is this the justice we have in store for our minors?
As I have mentioned in a previous post on the Facebook photos issue, I engaged some Grenadians, home and abroad, in an attempt to get different prospective on the issue. Quite interestingly, no one brought up the issue of sexual predators preying on minors. I had to ask the question, and I was taken aback by many of the comments I received. Like the Chief Magistrate, it seems to me that no one (both male and female) was really concerned about the minor, as much as they shown about the photos being on Facebook for the world to see. In my understanding, the public image of Grenada was their main concern; thus, the outrage.
Because of the deafening silence concerning the abuse of the minor, one can only conclude that if the photos were not posted on Facebook, then there would not have been any outrage. Which brings me back to a Grenadian event I attended where a government official literally asked Grenadians, who critique what they view as wrongs going on in the country online, not to expose our dirty laundry to the world. His words were that you are putting a bad face on Grenada.
This position of course does not speak for all Grenadians, and I hope not for the majority. But it does speak to a much bigger problem in Grenada; the ongoing concern whereby Grenadians remain silence about sexual abuse of minors – and woman in general. Here we have a minor who has been sexual violated by an adult man, who then thinks it was cool to take and post sexual explicit photo of her on Facebook, and people is only upset about them being posted on Facebook. No discussion about the elephant in the room, the sexual abuse of our woman and girls (boys and men included).
As reported in the New Grenada on May 1, 2013, “The Caribbean in general is grappling with an extremely high prevalence of child abuse in our island. In Grenada, news media has reported that the problem is grievous, and increasing.”
Yes, abuse of minors is increasing in Grenada. As a result, our job is to aggressively push our government to crackdown on these child predators, and women abusers. The outrage over these sexual explicit photos on Facebook is deserved, and so too is the push back on the government over the Electronic Crime Bill. However, this incident should have also ignited a national outrage over the issue of abuse of minors and women. Their concerns should have been part of the ongoing discourse; if not the priority issue.
I conclude with this. Apart from calling for the sexual violation of minors and women to be included in our outrage, I am also demanding that my government respond rationally and appropriately. Instead of using the public outrage to push through a Bill that seeks to silence its critics, focus on the real issues. Protect our minors, and women from these sexual deviants. The sexual explicit photos of the minor posted on Facebook were indeed a criminal act, but they are, in addition, more so a road signs to the large criminal acts going on in the country. “Grenada is being labeled dangerous for women and girls. This is evidenced by one third of all criminal High Court trials, being for sexual offenses,” – Now Grenada.