Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday has spoken out against “the pervasive rape culture” in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), saying that the country’s poor economic situation exposes women and girls to sexual exploitation.

“… we cannot ignore the pervasive rape culture in our country today nor can we turn a blind eye to the frightening level of sexual violence inflicted upon our women and children,” he said on Sunday at the annual convention of the Women’s Arm of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), of which he leader.

“Regional an international reports and statistics on violence against women paint a very bleak picture for us here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We recognise the serious national crisis that we are facing,” Friday said.

“I have said repeatedly, and it bears saying here again today, the situation in our country with respect to rape and sexual violence is a national disgrace. It demands urgent attention from government, civil society groups and all individuals in this country,” said Friday, who has been parliamentary representative for the Northern Grenadines since 2001.

“It must be all hands on deck for tackling this problem,” he told the event, held at his party’s headquarters, Democrat House, in Kingstown.

“Rape and sexual assault in all forms must be never normalised in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Our party will improve our criminal justice system and make sure that justice is not only seen to be done but actually is done.”

Friday’s comment came at a time when police have charged a number of men in connection with alleged sexual crime against little girls, some as young as 5 years old.

NDP president and Opposition Leader, Godwin Friday. (iWN file photo)

The opposition leader said an NDP administration would pay particular attention to the problem of sexual violence and sexual exploitation of women and girls.

“The poor economic conditions in our country — we all feel it — is a big part of the problem facing women and children in our society. Many fall prey to sexual predators seeking to take advantage of their poverty and debt.

“The high unemployment rate and poor socio-economic condition in our country is simply intolerable. We all know it. So, this knowledge must help up in our common cause to liberate our country and help our people to live lives of dignity and promise. It is not too much to ask.”

The opposition leader said that the rise of social media has made matters worse, adding that political bullying and violence has become so prevalent that international institutions such as the United Nations and the West Minster Foundation for Democracy have coined the phrase “violence against women in politics” and have held discussions and consultations on this growing problem

“You and I know that the situation is particularly bad in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We must change it,” Friday said.

He told the women’s convention that the NDP is committed to making positive changes for women and girls in SVG.

“The NDP is focussed on creating jobs and other economic opportunities for people of this country. We are committed to reducing the tax burden on the people and getting the people back to work. That is a promise that we will deliver when we are elected to office soon — in the next general election.”

General elections in SVG are constitutionally due in March 2021.

Friday said that to bring about the changes of which he spoke, everyone must work together to confront the issues head on.

“Women are leaders in their own right and have serious contributions to make to the party and to national development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Too often, women have been victimised and bullied in the political rings by opponents who have no respect and no decency,” Friday said.

32 COMMENTS

  1. I agree strongly Mr.Friday but what are you gonna do about it should you be elected ?because I’m tired of politicians fooling the Vincentian public on broken promises and the same things repeat themselves ,so please enlighten us on what’s your intention on how you and your team is gonna eliminate the rape and the rest of the crimes in our Lil svg.

    • …it’s always, we are going to or we will but never any insights as to how?

      I so agree with you!

  2. Yes, there is a correlation between poverty and the sexual abuse of females, including involuntary prostitution, sexual coercion, sexual exploitation of underage girls, and rape.

    Females in poor households are three to four times more likely to be sexually abused in one or more of these ways than those in rich households.

    But eliminating poverty, especially intergenerational poverty producing a “culture of poverty” characterized by apathy, fatalism, sexual promiscuity, alienation from mainstream norms, and the acceptance of criminality as a desirable life-style, is much harder to eliminate than Friday implies especially when massive job creation has eluded every government we have ever had.

    What magical solutions does Friday have for enriching us that previous governments in SVG and the larger Caribbean area have not tried in a desperate by failed attempt to turn their economies around?

    For example, if Friday reduced taxes would this be enough to kick start the economy or would it simply make it impossible for the government to pay its ermployees, repair the roads, and service its debts?

    And where are thousands of new jobs going to come from? Certainly not from the agricultural, tourism, industrial, or commercial sectors.

    • Good questions. I admire your contributions C.Ben. in an earlier post Godwin Friday outlined his macro economic philosophy. It is very similar to the early days of Singapore. Sadly, Kenton did not publish my comments and the article was not up more than a few days although it told us more about Godwin Friday than any other article. There are some good things about the present government but they are extremely poor in economics. Just look at the country and the unemployment and poverty. If we instead were going the right way economically many of our problems would disappear or not exist in the first place.
      I have spoken to many in government and suggested more “Supply-Side economics” such as Ivan O;Neal and Godwin Friday and some in the ULP have been suggesting. They will have no part of it! They insist it is possible to excessively borrow and spend our way to prosperity, and without job creation. They erroneously believe investors want to come to SVG and pay more to earn less, thinking the entire world wants to do business here. I have to admit Godwin Friday knows what he is talking about. Recovery will not happen overnight. We did not get into the terrible state we are in overnight. One positive is that I notice that although some of the women go the “bad” or desperate way, the tough situation has also created some of the most self-sufficient, powerful and admirable women I have ever seen.
      I believe the government should be in the business of creating an environment for opportunity for the people instead of just attaining wealth and power for themselves.

      • Duke DeArment,

        Not because an article is no longer on the homepage means that it has been removed from the site. If your comment was not approved, most likely, it contained information that could have exposed iWN to legal implications and those comments were so extensive that they could not be remedied by editing.

    • The jobs will come when the taxes and duties are lowered and investors feel it is profitable to invest. If it were me, I could make SVG a very wealthy country. It would take some very difficult times. Maybe I should write an essay on what the government is doing wrong, what they could be doing and explain my theories. I cannot do as good a job as you do C. Ben but I could provide food for thought. I thing James H. would do a better job. I hope he reads this.

  3. …but meanwhile as we protested outside, one of our very own was defending an accused of a crime that is spot on in relation to what we are protesting.

    Oh come on, she’s just doing her job. Everyone is entitled to a defence…..

    …Why are you talking about principles and the NDP and its members and supporters taking a principled stance?

    …Haven’t you heard of the saying: DO AS I SAY, NOT AS K DO?

    • What you say reminds me of a former lawyer that is now a very prominent ULP politician (that you admire immensely). That lawyer got very wealthy defending drug lords. Do you know who i am talking about? Of course you never say anything negative about the ULP or Gonsalves.

  4. …yet, whilst some members of the Opposition stood outside protesting, one of their very own was inside defending a man who was charged with an offence against a child- the very thing that they were all condemning.

    …but every accused person has the right to a defence. Counsel was just doing her job. You cannot be mad or be against a lawyer doing her job, can you? Counsel had a job and she did it. A person is innocent until proven guilty.

    …why are you trying to imply that the NDP and its members and parliamentarians at least should take a principled stance? Why are you bringing in principles?

    Come on. You are simply being unreasonable and impractical. You are just asking too much from the leadership of the party. We are against rape culture or anything close to this and it doesnt matter if one of our very own, is doing her job. She is within her rights as an attorney. Stop speaking about principles!!!! YOU ARE CONFUSING THE TWO.

    Haven’t we all heard about the saying: DO AS I SAY AND NOT AS I DO?

  5. Reducing and aggressive collection of taxes would be a great first step to turning the economy around. The statement above may seem mutually exclusive, but if we analyse the situation presently existing in the country it is not so. First, the working classes pay more than their fair share of the taxes needed to balance the books, whilst those in the professional classes do not. How many doctors, lawyers etch pay the right amount of taxes due on their earnings. I do not believe the government have any idea what the true earnings of individuals in this class is, so no doubt tax evasion must be very high in these sectors. How many builders and other self employed workers pay the taxes due on their earnings? Why do we offer amnesty to those who have not forwarded VAT collections to the government surely this is fraud and should be punishable by large fines or imprisonment as would be done in other progressive countries. I conclude, that the tax burden could be reduced on the lower paid and some in the productive areas of the economy if we are willing to aggressively pursue those who consider that tax rules do not apply to them. A increase in petrol tax would also serve to garner more revenue whilst reducing the environmental impact of gas guzzling and badly maintained vehicles.

    • Good points but which government party would punish or lock up their rich financial benefactors for tax evasion? Surely not the NDP or ULP.

  6. I am a victim of incest, I was 10 years old when my uncle who is my father’s brother sexully assulted me, my mother was overseas when this crime was committed against me. I told the neighbour, who told my grandmother and my father, they did nothing about it, because my worthless uncle was financially helping out my grandmother. I had no one or support when this crimed happened. But I had God in my corner, my mother send for me soon after this happened. I got the help I needed to be the successful woman I am today. I am hurting for these children who are being sexually molested by these pervs.

    The Government of SVG, should introduced a zero tolerance policy to protect these children and have very harsher punishment for these pervs. Currently they are given a slap on the wrist then they are out again looking for their next victim. My deepest desire is for the families to be able to get the help they need for their child and themselves, because this is a family worst nightmare, they all need professional help.

    Growing up we are told dont talk to strangers they can hurt you, but the funny thing is, most of the time it is the people we trusted most are the ones who will do us more harm. To all the victims out there please know that I am praying for you daily, may God bless you, and give you all the strength you need to live a very good and productive life. 🙂

    • I am sorry to hear about your incident. I really hate racism and injustice of all kinds especially, we all hate it when it occurs to innocent children. You are brave. You are one of the women i mentioned in my comment above. I wish you success in life. Government should have a better mechanism to stop these sex offenders.

    • My heart and soul go out to you but my head tells me nothing will change which is why we are often called the Third World’s Third World.

  7. I met a Belgian woman at Richmond Vale Academy, past Chateau visiting her son there. She was raped and robbed in broad day light on the road to Dark view Falls. She was a tourist! No one was ever charged. Somebody from the hills beyond the highway where they grow weed, not even Vincentian necessarily. Lots of people there from other Caribbean islands escaping justice.Then somebody killed a German tourist on his boat at a tourist site associated with the film, Pirates of the Caribbean, just a few years later. Tourists on Bequia complain about how the local men look at their 15 year old daughters online. You definitely have a problem, and not a lot of money to deal with it, but you need a new government, new ideas. I have nothing against the current government except that it’s been in power too long. Most other countries don’t allow that. In the US for example. I visit St Vincent and some high school girls are wonderfully flirtatious with me. That’s just who they are. I know that. I don’t exploit that. With the international airport, more tourists will come, slow at first. Tourists love obscure places that are undisturbed paradise, and St Vincent is one of them. And you need to treat women better.They should be safe anywhere they go, anywhere they are, and that applies to tourists as well.

    • There is nothing to suggest that anything would change as far as rape and incest are concerned with a change in government.

  8. Mr C ben-David

    Very bright and interesting man. But about agriculture. St Vincent has a huge potential, but people don’t grow crops because they are stolen, even before they are ripe. Passion fruit for example. You could be producing all kinds of spices and nuts, but root crops are difficult to steal. Your culture of theft is killing you. You could grow virtually anything on your rich volcanic soils, cater to the organic market. Why do you think the British established the first botanical garden in the western hemisphere on St Vincent? It’s an ideal place to grow anything basically. Now it’s just a park, a travesty to what it once was. You people could be so great. That’s how you treat your women. You don’t appreciate them. The women beat your kids and you’re proud of it. You need to fast forward into the present. We don’t beat our kids anymore. Women don’t have to travel with weapons to defend themselves. I carry pepper spray everywhere I go in St Vincent, mostly for the dogs that attack me, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use it on a human. That would give me about 20 minutes to get away.

  9. The dignity of life escapes those who perpetrate these types of crimes…While not akin to committing murder, justice needs to metted out in a manner that establishes an equivalence,because the premise was:the wants in the criminals’ lives, are more important than the wellbeing of victims. In fact,that’s why the victims, in many cases, end being killed.

  10. Very pervasive is sexual exploitation in St Vincent. Even at the highest echelon of VincentIan society practice this as a way of exerting their power over the most vulnerable in society. To get a job sometimes the exploiter oftentimes ask for sexual favours. Certain politicians are not immune from indulging in the kinds of behaviors. We know to well of allegation made against some of them. However, we as a society is spineless, given that we keep electing some of the same very culprits.

    • The choice of photo was Kenton’s not Fridays, its one of many iWN file images.

      One thing we should keep foremost in our minds is that Friday has never been accused or charged with rape, Gonsalves has.

  11. Why aren’t trade unions, churches, schools, sports organizations, taxi drivers, fishermen, farmers, and NGO’s not organizing and taking to the streets and standing with a united voice against these issues? How much more suffering do the people have to endure before you take action?

  12. The issue of sexual exploitation of women has no boundaries so stop blaming it on being 3’rd world it is a thing men do to vulnerable women all over the world. My problem however is that I struggle to understand in a creation where women are so important to as how as men we can sink to so deep so low that we can exploit the same entity that has done and is doing so much for us.

    We rape our children, we rape our women , we under pay them we down grade them and the list goes on. Even if we are poor but we are somehow able to teach our men to honour their women starting with their mothers and the elderly and of course loving and honouring God we can reverse this thing.

    And finally murder should not be condoned; watching young boys crushing the head of a rapist with large stones is not justice and these young men will not grow up to respect women so that was a sad exchange and the world was watching because I sat in my bedroom in Toronto and watched it. It was a tragedy for families on both sides and portrayed St Vincent in a very negative light.

  13. Well don’t forget even the best prime minister in the entire world was accused of rape and to date the accuser appears to have been silenced…any wonder we have a rape culture? Some of these same ladies in high places wouldn’t dare join the speak out campaign #metoo because the names of the perpetrators may be too surprising…yes rape appears prevalent among the poor but the rich is never brought before the light when they are either victims or perpetrators…woe be unto you hypocrites

    • Rich men rape. And poor men rape.

      The USA is the richest country in the world and thousands of women are raped every year. SVG is one of the poorest and has a very high rate of rape.

      All this suggests that there is no direct causal relationship between rape and poverty. What might be a more useful weapon against rape is truly harsh punishments for rapists. T

      The fear of mandatory 30 year jail sentences for convicted rapists would reduce the incidence of rape far more quickly than any transformation of our economy. In any case who truly believes that SVG would become wealthy within 30 years?

      • Can the country afford to keep so many rapists incarcerated for so many years? Do you have any idea what it costs to keep people in prison?
        The gov’t needs to think outside the box as how best to deal with such a high number of sexual predators.

  14. Ivona I would castrate them and if no one else wants to do it I will accept the appointment as official castrator.

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