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Cesspool of negativity

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Tue May 6, 2014

by Reshadi Blue

St Vincent and the Grenadines is a beautiful country at first glance – sunny days for the most part, breathtaking sea – and landscapes, and the people, though not as warm and friendly as they once were, are, generally, polite.{{more}}

When I returned to this island in 2010, my heart sank at what I saw around me. I do not want to add to the cesspool of negativity in our nation, but I will address the ugliness that exists; I will speak out about the social ills many of us may or may not be aware of and may or may not deny.

A few articles I have written were published locally – ‘Rape in SVG,’ ‘Paedophiles Walk Among Us,’ ‘Domestic Violence,’ ‘Age of Consent,’ et cetera. When it comes to the psychosocial aspect of our people, have we matured? Were there many positive changes in the past four years? “The more we look at what is missing, the less we see what is there” (Author Unknown).

Many women (and some men) are still being raped in St Vincent and the Grenadines; many incidents are not reported due to fear, guilt or shame, and many that are brought to the authorities (police stations, hospitals, et cetera) are not dealt with professionally and in an expedient manner. The victims of rape are, more often than not, seen in a negative light (they are mocked, scorned, shunned and even blamed), while the criminals (once they have no influential and/or powerful person to help them) are punished with a sentence of just a few years behind bars, which is a mere slap on the wrist for violating and possibly destroying another human being. The judicial system in this island is still sad beyond words; the victims know this, the criminals know this, you and I know this. What has been done and what are we doing to make a positive change? A few organisations are teaching our young boys and men to respect themselves and, in turn, respect females; also the young girls and women are being empowered to respect themselves and be vigilant about people and their surroundings.

“He beat she real bad dis time an’ mek she en’ up in de hospital,” “Dem dey does fight like cat an’ dog,” and the whispers, gossip and nonchalant attitude go on and on. There was a whirlwind of workshops and “open dialogues” about domestic violence three years ago, but the wind has quickly died down; the silence has settled back at the core of our society, where it has rested for generations. Abusers (mostly men), like cheaters, hardly ever change for the better, unless they willingly undergo intensive counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy. That requires a lot of dedication and work, which most abusers are not willing to do, so they continue to treat women (and children) as punch-bags and second-class citizens. There is good news: More women (and some men) are being empowered to break the cycle of abuse with the help of local support groups and agencies, self-help books and the Internet.

What about the paedophiles? These mentally sick men (and some women), who are sexually attracted to and engage in sexual activities with minors/children are still walking among us. They are rapists who prey on the body, mind and soul of our nation’s children at homes, schools, churches, in the buses, in the streets, at the beaches; they are everywhere ready to pounce on the vulnerable and innocent. Vincentians, what are we doing to get rid of these pollutants of society? Are we seriously protecting our young people? Do we intend to continue turning a blind eye, shrugging our shoulders and being silent while these paedophiles destroy our children? Apparently not. In recent years, various agencies and stakeholders have been diligently and arduously working on the Child Act, which will protect our children from danger in any shape or form; it promotes the human rights of the child. It is commendable that we are now acting to eradicate the negativity among us; less talking and more listening, as well as action. Finally!

“Finally” should be followed by a question mark. I say that because the Age of Consent is still 16 years old. For many years, St Vincent and the Grenadines has been promoting this filth; we embrace these sex crimes against our girls (and boys) as part of our culture. It is an ugly truth most of us accept through silence and/ or participation.

I am not among the majority and once again I ask the question: What sense does it make to allow a 16-year-old to have sexual intercourse “legally” and possibly become a teenage parent (what a responsibility!) yet that 16-year-old is prohibited from voting, driving (s/he can have a learner’s permit and is not allowed to drive at night), purchasing land and property, owning an ID card, having a NIS number, training/working professionally (teacher, nurse, police, et cetera) and drinking alcohol; (s/he has to wait until the age of 21)? Mind-boggling! Only dirty-minded and backward-thinking people will promote this law in our society. It is about time we make a positive change by increasing the age of consent. Why cannot people wait until they are, at least, 20 years old (out of their teenage years) to engage in sexual activities? Thankfully, there are responsible and caring adults among us who are positive role models and encourage our children to “break the law” by waiting until they are responsible and mature adults to engage in sexual activities.

St Vincent and the Grenadines is such a small nation, yet we seem to be almost drowning in so much filth; the negativity is overwhelming. What have we done and are we doing to clean up our nation? This island, though beautiful on the outside, will remain a cesspool of negativity on the inside if we do not actively and seriously address the social ills that fester like a cancer. We profess to be an independent/free nation; we say that we are developing and progressive. How truthful are those claims? Vincentians, we cannot teach what we do not know, but once we know better, the onus is upon us to do better. We do not have to wait on “massa”, “boss man” or “man from foreign” to tell us what to do or do we?

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