Our Readers' Opinions
June 16, 2006
On tourism, safety and society


Editor: About a fortnight ago the relative calm of our island home to which we genuinely welcome overseas visitors was disturbed by a most unfortunate incident involving a brutal attack on three tourists. Although it was not the first instance of tourists being ill-treated while on our shores, the nature of the crime sent shock-waves through hearts and was generally condemned by Vincentians. The issue has raised discussion about security at tourist sites and the effect that such an act could have on our image as a tourist destination.{{more}}

Last November I addressed the issue of “safe image” in an article in the Searchlight newspaper which I entitled “A Solemn Tourism Message”. It was tourism month here in SVG but it certainly wasn’t, where I was- in France. You see, around that time my eyes were often glued to the T.V. as I followed the developments surrounding the riots spreading throughout the world’s number one tourist destination-France. I quoted from France’s Minister of Tourism who highlighted the negative impact such riots were having on their tourism. At the same time I compared our situation with France’s where the ability to ‘bounce back’ from such problems is concerned. Then, I appealed to us to handle our internal affairs and first make SVG as safe as possible for its nationals in order to ensure safety for our visitors. Here we are today, less than a year later, with a public embarrassment on our hands and a clearly devastating blow to our image. Thankfully our Georgetown residents, doctors, the police, the tour company concerned and our Prime Minister have all played significant roles in damage control by adequately comforting the victims. However I have a particular concern to express and an appeal to make.

The main crime in question was rape – a crime which I consider to be prevalent in Vincentian society. It has always bothered me as I realise that the instances of rape of which we hear so often, hardly seem to be followed by reports of apprehension and prosecution of such criminals at the same rate. You hear about the rapist one day and a few days later you hear about him – when he strikes again. Why is this so? Can we say that we are doing enough to ensure that such criminals are firmly dealt with? I am made to wonder. Our women are less and less safe in their own homes because of what I consider to be light treatment of this very serious matter. Rape is a hideous crime and you only have to imagine it to see that. What message do the rapists (and the would-be ones) get from us as a society? Why does it seem that there is no deterrent to them? Why are they so bold and fearless? What are we not doing? We all need to consider. Our communities must be stronger and look out for each other. Some of you know who the “raper-man” is. Speak for God’s sake! Speak for your daughters, mothers, wives and girlfriends’ sakes! The rapists must fear and tremble, not you. Our security officials must work to encourage our citizens to participate in crime prevention and solving, by supporting those who come forward least they feel they are fighting alone. We all need to work more and work together to bring the perpetrators to justice for until we do so, SVG is not only unsafe for its visitors but also for its women.

Those of you who may be inclined to concentrate on laying blame for what happened at La Soufriere, I beg of you to desist from doing so. Unfortunately we cannot go back in time and prevent the act but we can surely put our heads together to come up with means and ways of decreasing the possibility of such incidents. Let our media personnel display high levels of responsibility and professionalism to the outer world while discussing this issue and let their talk show programs be media for the dissemination of great ideas to combat the problem. Our leaders must be sensitive to the outcries (even criticisms) of the people and keep their ears open to their comments, for there is much that can be learned from the simple man on the ground. I pray that a swift as possible judgment could be brought on the guilty ones. Let it serve as an example to other potential rapists of this nation’s intolerance of such behaviour – not only against tourists but against our women.

May God have mercy on us for it is clear that the principle of love (which is God) has been lost sight of in the minds of many, resulting in the almost complete disappearance of the values enshrined in ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’. Realising this, let all be encouraged to seek God sincerely through His words for re-education concerning hospitality to neighbours near and far.

Anesia Richards