Friday, December 15, 2017

Surprised silence on rape cases


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UNLESS mistaken, I sense a general lack of any public response from national or regional women organisations, as well as from women cabinet ministers and women in the legal profession within our Caribbean Community on two very disturbing media reported cases involving the heinous, degrading crime of rape.

One of the cases involve the courage of two white British women who have exposed themselves to the public as victims of rape while separately visiting Barbados. They subsequently became involved in a legal battle to win the freedom of the black Barbadian man they said was wrongfully charged and imprisoned for 18 months with separately raping them.

Once victory was won in the court for the freedom of rape accused, Derick Crawford, the two women—Dr Rachel Turner and Diane Davies—were to further express outrage over the apparent closure by the Barbados Police Force and their failure to so far secure an interview with Police Commissioner Darwin Dottin. This is a development in progress

The second rape case, most horrific, shocking and still being internationalised, was that of the 23-year-old medical student of India. She died last week in a hospital in Singapore after being gang-raped on a bus in Delhi then thrown out of the vehicle an hour or so later, along with her badly beaten  boyfriend.

Less we lose a quality of our humanity by becoming immune to the very degrading crime of rape that's afflicting all Caribbean nations and the world at large, it seems necessary for outcries to be raised and appropriate swift actions pursued to have such perpetrators of this horrible crime face the harshest possible penalty, once found guilty, in a court of law.

Personally, I am opposed to the death penalty for murder. But it is most challenging to disagree with advocates who seek such a punishment when confronted with cases of sheer barbarism as occurred in the case of the now dead medical student and the charges of murder enforced against her molesters.

We would be aware of many examples of women in Caribbean and other societies, developed and underdeveloped, who felt compelled to commit suicide after falling victim to rape.

More shockingly so when the rapist happens to be a family member, cousin or friend. Worse, a father, or step-father, a brother and when the word 'incest' is  expediently used in place of a cowardly, vulgar act of rape, forcing an act of suicide by a teenager or an adult woman; or compelling a child out of school to shelter a life-changing pregnancy.  

The sickening, bizarre degradation of women by rape — now increasingly being used as a weapon of war in too many societies — is often compared with the barbarism of self-righteous cowards in other societies, influenced by questionable religious and cultural claims, stone women allegedly involved in "unlawful" sexual relations, and often without even mentioning the "male" partner.

In our Caribbean today, half a century after the dismantling of British colonialism, first in Jamaica and secondly in Trinidad and Tobago, too many women victims of rape — old and young — still suffer in silence, continue to survive with the agony of their degradation rather than summon the courage — by no means an easy act — to expose their violators.

Consequently, such criminal elements are emboldened to repeat their acts of human degradation and even share their exploits with company of the depraved.

That's why I, for one, am concerned over the apparent failure by national and regional women organisations to at least express some public interest in the admirable case of the two British women who chose to bare themselves as rape victims, then to systematically engage the authorities in Barbados for the freedom of the man they insist was not the Barbadian who had committed the criminal act.

It is indeed rare for two women victims of rape, anywhere, to become so publicly involved in ensuring justice for a man wrongfully charged and imprisoned for raping them and now insisting on a meeting with the country's police commissioner to further explain the relevant circumstances of the case and why their insistence that the real rapist is still at large.

At the time of writing, the much respected Barbados police commissioner was still maintaining that the cops who initially handled the case had done a thorough probe. However, he has now also signalled a willingness to meet with Rachel Turner and Diane Davies—the two brave rape victims showing their own keen interest in upholding of the rule of law.