Iremember the horror with which I beheld my CXC examinations results upon realizing I’d passed for enrolment at a particular school. It wasn’t so much the school itself that bothered me. The reason I panicked had to do with a widely publicized news report about a recent ‘gang bang’ at the school. To this day I remember standing in my room, tears streaming down my face, as I imagined the awful attack.
I was the only one of my friends who would be attending the school, ranked in the island’s top five—an irony that was for me especially terrifying. The fact that my older brother also attended the school was no consolation. That boys were less likely to be victimized than girls hardly mattered.
Not much has changed since, certainly not my view that women are more vulnerable in a society disinclined to reprimand men who consider it their right to dominate, to manipulate, to force women into sex. Rape and other forms of sexual violence are even more commonplace than when I sat my CXC. If anything has changed it is the unspeakable violence that now is part of the sexual abuse. Almost monthly we hear the reports of dismembered females, of metal objects jammed into them. Some victims were raped while their children looked on; some murdered before the eyes of their horrified offspring. That more victimized women seem to be speaking out doesn’t seem to matter. Clearly for too many men in our country women exist to be ravaged in the worst way, to be killed and sliced up like animals at a slaughterhouse.
Meanwhile it seems the population has become jaded; shell-shocked, maybe. Even when publisher and TALK host Rick Wayne says on TV that “most females in Saint Lucia have been raped or otherwise sexually abused,” there is hardly a reaction. It’s almost as if he’d said the sky is blue. He repeats the shocking statistic and waits for a contradicting voice that never comes. It would seem everyone knows how bad it is for females in Christian Saint Lucia. Rape has become ‘we kolcha’; as normal as grinding in contour-hugging Spandex at carnival time.
Will the proper measures ever be put in place so women may go about their business without fear of ending up naked at the roadside or on a semi-deserted beach? Then again, only the loudest squeaks get the oil. And no one’s squeaking. But that’s only half the horror story. The other half concerns the victims of sexual abuse who were not killed while some savage got his rocks off. Where are the rehab centres? Who cares? No one, it seems, until the consequences of such neglect, the killers, the arsonists, the child molesters, claim their latest victim.
When will we care enough to make sex education an important part of our school curriculum? When will we acknowledge and improve the housing situation that is a major contributor to our worst social problems? When will we recognize that without a functioning justice system we are nothing more than animals living by the law of the jungle? And yes, when will we realize the reputation of a school does not begin to be as important as protecting young school girls from being ‘gang-banged’?
It is high time we realized the roles women play in a civilized society are every bit as important as those played by their male counterparts. We have to teach our people to respect one another, regardless of gender. It is also time the society started dealing with the incorrigible miscreants who refuse, for whatever twisted reasons, to accept that truth!