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It’s time for action in SVG

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The murder of Ells King on Sunday, the chopping of a woman while working as part of a road gang on Monday morning in Bequia and the snatching of a gold chain from Burns Bonadie while he tried to battle the culprit have once again raised the serious issue of crime in this country. I have singled these out because they have recently been featured in the news, but daily there are robberies and other deplorable acts and misdemeanours taking place.{{more}}

It has reached the stage where some persons are afraid to leave their homes after 6:00 p.m. This, however, is only part of the story because some of these acts are committed in broad daylight. Take, for example, the Burns case, in broad daylight and in an area where there is always some sort of activity and people are always on the move. The reports indicate that Burns wrestled with his attacker for a while. What were the other people in the area doing? All of this is becoming unbelievable. The perpetrators of these acts are getting bolder and bolder because they realise that few people are going to act, allowing them time to escape. The National Commission on Crime Prevention has again made an appeal for people of this country to “stop the senseless killings which have been plaguing our Vincentian society within recent times.”

That appeal is quite funny. Who thinks that persons who commit crimes of the nature that we have been experiencing are going to listen to appeals to stop what they are doing? Others have issued similar appeals and perhaps it is necessary for them to say something. I have always been of the view, and still am, that the matter of crime has to be tackled on a number of different fronts. So it is understandable why these appeals will be made. But what else are we doing? Is there stepped up police patrol on the streets? Is there anything happening that will cause these persons to think twice before undertaking these acts? It is as though we feel that this trend is inevitable and that there is little outside calling for enforcement of the death penalty that can be undertaken. The truth is that we are faced with incidents of a serious and worrying nature which will not necessarily warrant the death penalty. We are not even seeing people in the streets protesting against what is going on and calling for some kind of action.

We used to blame the upsurge on crime on drug trafficking, but it is clear to me that many of the deeds we are witnessing do not show any association with the drug trade. We were told at one time that some of the perpetrators of these acts were persons who were deported from the US for different crimes. Is this so? Have we carried out any investigations on this matter? Also worrying is the news of weapons being taken to school by students. How are we dealing with this? It is easy for some of us to answer some of the concerns by saying that the upsurge in crime is not unique to SVG. That is true, but we have to deal with SVG, to understand why what is happening is happening, and to begin to put measures in place to get some control over what is going on.

One of the things that stands out is the fact that women bear the brunt of the attacks, leading to some embarrassing articles listing SVG as one of the areas where being a woman is a terrible thing. Issues of domestic violence are undoubtedly high as women are the major victims of abuse. Women are still mere objects in our advertisements, and many of our songs portray them in that way.

Despite all that has happened since the Women’s Movement took root, a lot of this has not changed. The images of women in advertisements and in our songs cannot be divorced from the violence against women. What they have done is to create certain mindsets that remain rooted in the consciousness of men, and of women, too, despite the rhetoric that is sometimes used to show otherwise. The abuse of women manifests itself not only in incidents of domestic violence.

It is today still common to have men using their economic power to control and abuse women and to demand sexual favours. This is perhaps more rampant than some of us would like to believe. What is funny, rather sickening, about this, is that some men see nothing wrong with it. Women in their minds are things to be manipulated and have been put there to serve their needs. The point I am trying to make here is that some of these things do not come out of thin air. The image to the outside world that we present based on certain developments within our country is far from flattering. We take these things in stride, talk about them when a particular issue comes up and then move back into a state of apathy.

These issues will not automatically sort themselves out in the process of time.

We have to meet these issues head on. The time for action is now.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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