Our Readers' Opinions
December 4, 2009
Violence Against Women: A Disgusting Trend in SVG

04.DEC.09

Editor: In response to last week’s letter to the editor by D. Brent Hardt with regards to violence against women:

Do not be deceived, violence against women remains a major problem in St.Vincent and the Grenadines, and nothing is being done about it.{{more}}

I am addressing you as an American/Vincentian woman (who recently voted) by saying: our current constitution and the lackluster attempt at a new one should provide sufficient evidence that our Government has no interest in gender equity beyond what has already been accomplished. Even worse is that the women of SVG do not demand more for themselves.

More than half of the population of SVG is female. They are our mothers, daughters, sisters, spouses, teachers, girlfriends, etc. There is not one Vincentian without a special woman in their life, yet somehow many aren’t being treated as such. Instead, our girls are being neglected, preyed on by older men, forced into prostitution, beaten, harassed, mentally abused and disgustingly accepting it as a cultural norm!

Beyond those examples is one that plagues every woman’s mind since birth: rape. All women fear rape and it is a dread inherently based on gender inequality and abuse.

Did you know 2008 report of sexual violence against women (published by The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada/UN Refugee Agency) lists St.Vincent and the Grenadines as having the THIRD highest incidence of rape in the WORLD? The UN Office on Drugs and Crime analyzed statistics from 102 countries and listed that SVG had a rate of 112 rapes per 100,000 people, whereas the average is 15 reported incidents per 100,000 people. Are you enlightened yet, because this shouldn’t be for such a small country!

Frighteningly enough, if you have ever been educated on the subject of rape, you will understand that the numbers are far underestimated. This is due to contributing factors such as negative stigmas associated with victims, self blame, and pressures such as fear of retaliation by offender, or lack of help from police/law and many, many more. Do we see many of these factors influencing our women in SVG? I dare say so!

Instances of rape are reported almost monthly here, yet how many captures, convictions, follow-ups, new enforcement strategies, and police monitoring routes have we seen? How many Government officials do we hear addressing this major problem? With the lack of policing, law enforcement, convictions and Governmental concern it’s no wonder we are having this problem.

In regards to law, a 2009 Country Report on Human Rights Practices (published by the United States Department of State) affirms that our current regulations do not specifically address sexual harassment, trafficking, or domestic violence. Furthermore, our recently proposed constitution did not address any of these issues nor did it increase protection for victims of rape/domestic violence.

Why do we women settle for less when we make up more than half of the population? It is absurd that we should continue to demean ourselves by putting up with such mal treatment. We should have the right to walk down the street without being hassled! We should have the right to work in an environment free of harassment! And, we should have the right to walk down the street at night without threat of rape!

As long as violence against women is rampant, women will not be able to reach their full potential in Vincentian society. Oppression is not just a female problem, it is a human problem, and we must not let the opportunity for a better constitution pass us by without lobbying for true equality. We must band together as a people-male and female-to prevent violence against women.

Let us refrain from party affiliation, oppositions, and power hungry politicians. Let us concern ourselves with what really matters—human rights and equality— so that our daughters can truly live free.

SJB