By Gloridene Hoyte
Acting Commissioner of Police Enville Williams says sexual violence in St. Vincent and the Grenadines continues to baffle him.
“When you look at the reports daily throughout St Vincent and the Grenadines sexual offences continue to increase at [an] alarming rate and very often the victims get younger and younger and younger,” he said in Georgetown on Friday, during the launch of a branch of the Sexual Offences Unit in that northeastern town.
“It tells me that we have a situation that needs to be addressed and must be addressed right now and not tomorrow,” the police chief said.
Data released by the police this month show that in 2022, police received reports of seven cases of attempted unlawful sexual intercourse, 57 cases of unlawful sexual intercourse, four cases of attempted rape, 32 cases of rape and 85 cases of indecent assault.
No comparative data were released.
The Sexual Offenecs Unit is headquartered in Questelles and Williams recognised the foresight of retired Commissioner of Police Colin John, who is now senior magistrate, in setting up a branch in Georgetown.
The Georgetown branch began operating in September 2023, while John was on pre-retirement leave.
Williams said that with the Georgetown branch of the unit, the response of the police will be “almost immediate”.
He said the police force will continue to treat sexual violence with great urgency and seriousness.
He referred to the exhortation delivered by Pastor Shakika Fraser, which was based on 2 Samuel 13, which recounts the story of Amnon raping his half-sister, Tamar.
Then, Tamar’s brother, Absalom, murdered Amnon in retaliation.
Fraser told the rally that sexual assault destroys families and people’s lives.
Williams summarised the preacher’s messages as “No means no.”
The police chief said 2 Samuel 2:12 captures the theme as it relates to sexual offences.
In that verse, as Amnon initiates his assault of his half-sister, Tamar pleads with him to stop, telling him:
“No, my brother … Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing.”
Williams encouraged people who hear or see something to report it speedily to the police so that action can be taken.
The acting commissioner of police also implored the young boys and girls who “might have that secret you want to tell” to find someone that you can trust, such as a teacher…
“We have your backs, the RSVGPF will fight for you who cannot fight for themselves.”
Meanwhile, Divisional Commander of the Eastern Division of the police force, Superintendent of Police Hesran Ballantyne told iWitness News that he welcomes the branch of the Sexual Offences Unit in the division.
Ballantyne said he looks forward to the team mentoring and reaching more people, more so the youth as they carry out their mandate.
He restated his commitment to support the functions and operations of the department to effectively and speedily apprehend and prosecute offenders whilst educating the public in an effort to reduce and eliminate offences of a sexual nature, especially against children.