Front Page
April 16, 2010
Mothers silent about sexual abuse of daughters

Mothers across St.Vincent and the Grenadines who stand at the side of alleged perpetrators of sexual abuse at the expense of their daughters have been cited as one of the biggest challenges facing the Family Affairs Division.{{more}}

Cammie Matthews, Director of the Family Affairs Division, made the disclosure to SEARCHLIGHT earlier this week.

Minibus operators and their conductors were also identified as a significant challenge where sex with under age girls is concerned, stated Matthews.

“The major alleged perpetrators are van drivers and van conductors. Those are the ones that the schools tend to point out to us most,” he said.

Regarding mothers, Matthews told SEARCHLIGHT: “Sometimes they would not be as cooperative as they ought to. Probably because of fear, probably because they see the man as their breadfruit tree and if he were to be prosecuted and perhaps end up in prison, it’s like cutting down their breadfruit tree.”

He added: “It is the greatest challenge when you find mothers, in particular, rather than lending their support and allowing the law to have its course, they would try to impede progress, and if possible do it at the expense of their children.”

In 2009, the Family Affairs Division registered 32 cases of sexual abuse. The figure stood at 40 in 2008 and at 47 in 2007. The highest reported cases of sexual abuse within recent times, though, stood at 51 in 2002.

A report on the crime situation for the year 2008 from the Royal St.Vincent and the Grenadines stated that there were 121 cases of sexual assault during that year. These cases were broken down into rape (36); attempt rape (7); intercourse under 15 years (30); intercourse under 13 years (29); incest (14); indecent assault 50; buggery-animal (2); and buggery-person (3).

Matthews called on the country to take a tougher stance against perpetrators who are out to “dehumanize children and particularly young girls”.

“I do believe that no haven should be provided for them. Once there is concrete evidence as it were that they have done this thing I don’t even believe that you should have somebody standing by their side saying they are pleading,” said Matthews, expressing that the state needs to send a strong message to perpetrators.

Matthews stated that there are instances where individuals think that if they were to report a case their lives might be at risk. He said people can call his division or come in person. Their names will be treated with the strictest confidence,” said Matthews.

Another concern to Matthews related to the neglect of children. In 2009 there were 94 reported cases of child neglect.

“It is a serious cause for concern,” lamented Matthews, adding during the same period there were 31 cases of abandonment.

“No father, no mother. Neither of them look back,” said Matthews.

This month a series of activities highlighting the protection of children is being held under the theme: “Give Love and Respect Play Your Part Don’t Neglect”

These activities are held to heighten the awareness of child abuse and to encourage parents and those who are responsible for providing child care services to fight on to ensure the rights and dignity of children are protected.

The Family Services Division has planned parental workshops to be carried out in Ottley Hall, Georgetown, and Layou. The division is also hoping to stage a special motorcade in Campden Park on Friday, April 23, 2010, and a church service in Marriaqua on Wednesday, April 28, 2010, at the Marriaqua Seventh Day Adventist Church.