We live in a country that has been unable to effectively address issues of sexual violence. So many aren’t educated on the various aspects of sexual violence, so many more aren’t educated on the laws that are in place to protect them; the laws that dictate age of consent. Many don’t know what agencies are out there, or what help they can provide. Too many of our young boys and girls are being broken by their experiences with sexual violence. I speak about statutory rape because we tend to turn a blind eye when we see an older man/woman sleeping with a younger girl/boy. We don’t question what is taking place, we don’t acknowledge the crime taking place. For some it may seem a normal occurrence. But how can it be, how can we think nothing of an older man/woman taking advantage of a younger girl/boy? If he/she is UNDER the legal age,IT’S A CRIME. The legal age of consent in St.Lucia is 16. Intercourse with children under the age of 16 is a crime, it is statutory rape. We all know of the cases of men and women engaging in sexual relationships with children, at what point do we acknowledge it is a crime. We don’t need the law to set an age for us to understand and accept that sexual intercourse of any kind, sexual interaction of any kind with a child is wrong. When did we become a society willing to accept, overlook, ignore, that adults are taking advantage of our children, they are effectively ruining their lives before they even get a chance to truly start living.
We tell our children all the time that they are too young to know what they want, that they haven’t lived yet, but when it comes to them being taken advantage of by older men/women in a relationship we don’t seem to have opinions on that. There are far too many young women having children; we expect so much from them; but they are children themselves. Children who should have been protected and cared for, but instead were violated. We let so much slip away, so much is shoved under the rug. We forsake our children, their rights, their lives and their happiness all because we are too afraid to do something. Too afraid to say something, or too nonchalant to care. We are afraid to face the facts, to face the truth. We blame victims over and over for being raped. Why would they put themselves in certain situations, why would they let certain things happen to them? What then do we say about men and women who sleep with underage youth? What do we expect those youth to do after they have become pregnant and are abandoned by those men? When will we begin to punish criminals for the crimes they commit? When will we begin to acknowledge the crime of statutory rape and begin to do more to protect our children? Statutory rape is a huge problem, a problem that affects our youth. How can we expect more from them when we are giving them nothing and leaving them to be continuously abused? How do we expect a teenage mother to provide for her children, where do we expect her to find the financial stability to securely take care of her children and herself? Let us not put undue stress on victims but place the blame where it lies, at the feet of the abuser, at the feet of the older man/woman who has taken advantage of your baby. Do your job to ensure statutory rapists are punished as they should be.
You see, a huge part of the problem with sexual violence in St.Lucia is the fact that our leaders don’t see the need, or the importance of actively addressing the issue. When those in charge of running the country don’t acknowledge the issue, when they don’t feel the need to ensure that more is in place for victims/survivors, that the crimes of sexual violence are punished, that we are aware of our rights, that there is more actually in place to address the issue. What we end with, is a country where Sexual predators roam freely, take what they want from whom they want, without fear of reprisal. We set the standard that tells Sexual Predators of all economic backgrounds, that sexual violence Is condoned, that in St.Lucia, crimes of sexual violence are not important, will not be dealt with, you, the perpetrators of crimes of sexual violence will never be held accountable. We tell survivors and victims alike, that in St.Lucia it is pointless seeking help, the country, the leaders of the country don’t stand with you, don’t care about you. It tells foreigners, that should you fall victim to this crime, you will go through hell to get help and prosecute this case. When will enough be enough, when will we stop pretending that sexual violence isn’t a problem here? When will our leaders finally decide that crimes of sexual violence aren’t women issues and not deserving of the time and attention necessary? Sexual Violence affects men, boys, women, girls regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, economic background, religion, place of birth etc. The scary truth is that anyone of us at any time could fall victim to the crime of sexual violence. The sad reality is that the issue is not regarded as important enough in St.Lucia to ensure more is in place with our legal system, police system, education system, statistical department, ngo’s and governmental institutions dedicated to helping society. #TIME IS UP#
We, at PROSAF, have acknowledged that violence against women is a problem in St.Lucia and the wider Caribbean. We are here to begin the metamorphosis that is desperately needed. We are always here to listen and if you are not ready to come forward but need a listening ear, feel free to contact us. Remember that Sexual assault is something that happens to people, it does not define them, it is something that was done to them. Survivors, Victims, Thrivers remember you are a strong, beautiful, intelligent woman/child/man who has suffered a trauma through no fault of your own. You are not guilty of any crime, something was done to you against your will Sexual Assault is something that happened to you, it does not define you. You are worthy of love and happiness. Always remember that you are not alone, that you have nothing to be ashamed of. We are taking the baby steps necessary to make it better for all. KNOW YOU HAVE A SAFE SPACE IN PROSAF. If you are interested in finding out more information about sexual violence and what you can do as part of this community, please feel free to contact us at:
Souyenne Dathorne, Velika Lawrence