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On this day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States of America, it is a painful reminder that lawlessness once governed the masses. As we wind down we remember across the ocean in the Atlantic, where many call Paradise, a similar lawlessness haunts those who live there. Sexual crimes reached record highs throughout the Caribbean in 2015 sending shock waves through our communities.
We rallied, we petitioned, we cried out to our governments in hope that they would feel the anguish of the dozens of rape victims who came forward. In the past, our problem was that we would not speak about the abuse. Now we are speaking, shouting, screaming to the top of our lungs, “it happened to me too.” More than ever, we saw victims standing bravely in the face of mockery, and fear of their lives to identify offenders while our governments, whose job it is to protect us from lawlessness stood silent. The silence of political leaders, business executives, church leaders, school teachers was more lethal than the crimes. This is the silence of our ancestors, the silence of our parents, the silence of our shame, the silence of our tears. I learned a lot last year about my Caribbean people. It is not that we are insensitive to rape and child molestation, but that many of us have been scarred so deeply by it, the mere utterance of it sends us into quiet mode. But the fact that we saw our people coming out of the shadows with their tears and scars, telling us all what happened to them and who did it made 2015 one of the most dynamic years in social change and advocacy throughout the Caribbean. More than ever we saw the most polarizing campaigns of awareness in our times as many came forward, many spoke up, and then waited for the justice system to grant us the social and community healing of… justice. Many charges on record for sex crimes at local police stations, but hardly any convictions. What this means is that the victims spoke, and the charges were pressed, but the flaws in our system offered little reward to victims in the wake of tragedy after tragedy.
2016 we must reach the ears of our leaders, our prosecutors, our judges, our governments, our churches, our schools and social organizations. They must work with us to move towards a brighter future for a better Caribbean with a regional/international sex offender registry. It is the only way. To quote the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on laws,
“Now the other myth that gets around is the idea that legislation cannot really solve the problem and that it has no great role to play in this period of social change because you’ve got to change the heart and you can’t change the heart through legislation. You can’t legislate morals. The job must be done through education and religion. Well, there’s half-truth involved here. Certainly, if the problem is to be solved then in the final sense, hearts must be changed. Religion and education must play a great role in changing the heart. But we must go on to say that while it may be true that morality cannot be legislated, behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also. So there is a need for executive orders. There is a need for judicial decrees. There is a need for civil rights legislation on the local scale within states and on the national scale from the federal government.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Taken from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s address at Western Michigan University, December 18, 1963, cited in The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture by Scott Klusendorf (forthcoming).
After many months of research on sex crimes and sexual abuse, we will be submitting our ‘We Want to Know’ petition for a sex offender registry, to the Government of St. Lucia.
As we near the date, Caribbean Committee Against Sex Crimes, MASTER MEETING 2016 will take place on Friday, January 22, 2016, at 7PM New York time (8PM if you are in the Eastern Caribbean). It is of utmost importance that your presence be noted at this meeting as it will mark many very important decisions for the future of this advocacy in the region.
In our research we were able to review several legal cases regarding sex crimes and sex trafficking in the Caribbean. This includes lists of convicted sex offenders throughout the Caribbean, the nature of the crimes and information on the court where the judgments were passed. The list of sex offenders along with other materials will be available for review and research at our meeting on Friday.
Join Zandoli International Foundation’s CCASC for the MASTER MEETING 2016, Fri. January 22nd 7pm EST. Register for the MASTER MEETING 2016 here.