By Gloridene Hoyte
A branch of the Sexual Offences Unit of the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force was launched in Georgetown on Friday with a march and rally.
The event was held under the theme “Know your path… Do your part… Break the silence.”
The march began at the car park opposite Bank of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. travelled to the Georgetown Mall at Mt Bentick then back to the car park of the Georgetown Police Station, where the rally was held.
Retired Commissioner of Police Colin John, who is now senior magistrate, was instrumental in establishing the Georgetown branch of the Sexual Offences Unit, whose headquarters are at Questelles.
The Georgetown branch, to which four officers are assigned, began operations on Sept. 14, 2023, and is headed by Corporal 365 Mc Donald.
Speaking at the launch, acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Trevor “Buju” Bailey, announced that Assistant Superintendent of Police Nigel Boucher has replaced him as the officer in charge of the unit.
The unit was under Bailey’s command for the last five years but late last year, the senior detective was assigned overall responsibility for crime fighting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Bailey reminded the rally that there is no statute of limitation on sexual offences.
“So, if you were sexually assaulted five years ago, there is nothing that can prevent you from coming forward today to make your report,” he said.
“When we band together, we are stronger than ever and today, your presence is a testimony that we all are saying no not only to crime but specifically to the offence of sexual assault and rape.
“Our young girls must be allowed to live their lives, their youthful life as children and experience all the different changes that … children go through … Equally our ladies are not a fruit, they are not to be fondled and to be picked and to be touched … So, ladies, young girls, anybody who touches you inappropriately, don’t accept that, come and make a report,” Bailey said.
Delivering the featured address, Teckla Jack, a nurse, shared her experience of how she was able to avoid becoming a victim of sexual assault.
“Many of these abuses are happening right under our noses and they are covered up… We should not allow these things to happen,” Jack said.
She said that when she reported the matter, her guardian at the time responded, “Aryo ah family!”
She told the gathering and online listeners that children are “sold for different things; simple things — one meal, one pair of shoes, one laptop … and it is not good.
Jack reminded parents that their children are of value and pointed out that there are many women who also are enduring sexual abuse.
The nurse said that most of the time, women are afraid to report sexual assault because they are ashamed.
In many instances, the community tends to blame the victim and judge them, she said, adding that the community has a duty to protect and not add to victims’ feeling of guilt or self-blame.
She urged people to whom victims of sexual assault open up to offer support, demonstrate trust and be confidential.
Jack also called for the establishment of a sex offender registry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.