Activist suggests better services to address sex crimes in A&B

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A regional child rights activist is advocating for the setting up of “decentralised, open and professionally structured services” to address issues related to sex crimes in Antigua & Barbuda.
This is in light of a recent case in which a father pleaded guilty to raping his daughter from the age of nine until she was 14 years old and was jailed for 18 years.
Former Director of Child Fund Caribbean, Francis Joseph said teachers, parents and others are the voice of vulnerable children, however, there needs to be a strong institution that follows up on such  cases.
Such facility, he said, should be equipped with well-trained staff who are able to identify signs of abuse.
“We need people who are visible within the communities and within the schools to observe what is happening, we need people to be doing home visits who have the authority from the government or social services to make checks to see how that child is doing,” Joseph said.
“The focus on early detection and intervention can be done and there are resources out their to prepare people to do that, but we have to examine the institution,” he added.
Joseph said that in some homes it is difficult for a child to come forward because of varying cirsumstances and in many cases social workers are not within reach.
Last week, residents reacted with anger as, according to details of the case, the child had been appealing to residents for help during the period of the sexual abuse by her father, all to no avail.
She had also turned to a pastor who advised her to pray for her father and move on instead of going to the police to file a report.
Gender Equality Advocate and commentator Nadeen Spence, who was apart of the discussion, spoke of the need for an environment to be created to ensure that support is given to the victim who has suffered abuse.
She said more often than not, the victim is made to believe he or she is at fault.
“As a society we need to be okay with the fact that those who prepretrate these kinds of atrocities against the innocent amongst us, and sometimes the most vulnerable, are always going to be ashamed. They are to be named and shamed and this is to be a deterrent,” Spence said.

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