Dr. Fraser- Point of View
March 22, 2013
I cry for my country

Things in SVG seem to be becoming grimmer as the days go by. We have to admit that there are problems all over the world and that these are rough times indeed. Having laid that on the table it must be said that we cannot sit back and use that as an argument for accepting the state of things or for failing to do anything about the multiplicity of problems we face.{{more}}

Circumstances are often different as are the dynamics. We have to do what we have to do to deal with our situation. We cannot throw up our hands in the air and simply say that these things are happening elsewhere. Some countries have cushions to stave off the ill effects of problems that arise in every aspect of their lives. We do not. It is as though we are waiting on some divine intervention, which, for some of us, comes in the form of a political party and a father figure that claims to have powers granted from above.

When you listen to the news these days, particularly when you read the newspapers, you wonder what is happening to this country of ours that some still innocently refer to as home of the blessed. Very often things happen that cast a pale shadow on our affairs, but there is no outcry. The Minister of Health recently expressed concern about the rate of teenage pregnancy. In doing so, he indicated that there were eight pregnancies that involved young girls between 11 and 14.
For me, the big story isn’t really about the high rate of teenage pregnancies but about the eight that involved girls 11 to 14. This kind of issue has been around with us for some time and we ask if there is any obligation on the part of parents, nurses, others, to report these matters to the legal authorities. We understand that very often parents circumvent any action by accepting payments from the supposed fathers, which sometimes include persons from what we might call ‘high society’.
We understand that there are laws which would soon come into existence that will sort these things out. I am of the view that any parent who participates in this kind of cover up be also charged. Why would parents do this to their own daughters? We might say because of situations of poverty and of not wanting to create problems for a father, who they hope will provide for the child. This really, in a sense, is what in economics we refer to as market forces. But isn’t there anything that can talk beyond money, especially when one’s daughters are involved?

Rape continues without, in my view, any serious action by the society. Recently a man was sentenced to twelve years for rape. Good! But many others get off and many are not reported. International Women’s Day has recently passed. Apart from a few statements by a few, women have not used the occasion to highlight this issue and other issues, such as domestic violence that seriously affect them. Incest is still an issue, as we have seen recently. Again there was not the kind of outcry that we needed and should have expected. In the olden days the society organised “mock hangings”, which was a way of telling the accused that his behaviour defied the norms of the society and was, not accepted. Even that, important and effective as it was did not always do what it was supposed to. At the last “mock hanging” that I went to, some years ago, the alleged perpetrator was walking around, seemingly enjoying himself and waiting perhaps for community applause.

But are things falling apart? When I read the newspapers I can only conclude that they are. The Director of Public Prosecution had apparently indicated that there were three occasions on which he had referred matters to the police and they had not acted. There is another statement from that same source that inaction by the police in reference to an order to charge ‘cops’ was a clear breach. I am not sure how the law works with these matters, but clearly something is wrong somewhere. Even more frightening are two stories in the news recently. ‘Three Cops to be charged in ‘friendly fire’ Shooting!’; ‘Two police officers fined for using indecent language!’

Then, homicides continue as though they are becoming everyday things. A recent headline: “Woman loses two sons in four days – Double Tragedy”. Others: the sister of one victim said “You are not really safe in Your House” and “23 year old shot over schoolgirl”. All of this is scary. It is as though things have gone haywire.

On another front, the news coming out of SVG is also, if not more, worrying. News that the owner of Millennium Bank will soon be facing charges; Thiery Nano arrested in France, I believe, and Harlequin under serious investigation. There really is never a dull moment. How do we get the true story of what is unfolding in our country? It is certainly not easy to get to the bottom of these things, since threats of lawsuits prevent all but the brave from even venturing an opinion.

Is there any hope for us, especially with the economic situation seemingly getting out of control? We have to be very careful, for in such a tense situation it only takes a small spark to cause an explosion that we might be unable to control. Tears are not what are needed. There has to be action and perhaps there is still room for civil society to be born again and mobilise the human resources and advocacy that are badly needed.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.