Is there any truth behind serial rapist reports?

It’s no secret that a significant number of rape cases on island slip under the radar. For a number of reasons some victims choose not to report to the authorities, but that in no way makes the unreported accounts any less real than the ones that do make their way to police.
Unfounded reports of a serial rapist in the north of the island were enough to cause women to be even more suspicious than usual of every seemingly shady looking character. It has been quite a scary situation ever since messages started getting around via BlackBerry, social
networking mediums and word of mouth and
rumour or not, the
possibility alone was all it took to generate public interest.
In an attempt to get to the bottom of the serial rapist mystery the STAR contacted the police press relations department. While they were aware of the information circulating calls to the Gros Islet police station by the police PR department were unavailing. Officers at the Gros Islet station claimed to have received no such reports concerning a serial rapist in their vicinity.
This is not the first time the serial rapist topic has come up in the media. Back in 2010 Flavia Cherry, representative from the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action alerted people of what seemed to be a series of rapes in the north. At that time even though they admitted to receiving two rape reports via the Gros Islet police station, police told the media they had “no information leading to any serial rapist.”
“To make a statement that there are several cases of rape will inspire fear in people,” former police press relations office Trevor Constantine had said. “People who have information should come to the police.”
Speaking to representatives from the Crisis Centre on Tuesday, May 29 presented a different perspective. During our interview it was noted that one of the cases brought to the Centre two months ago, or at least the perpetrator was suspected to have been associated with rape cases in the past.
The Crisis Centre counselor felt rape was a bigger problem in St Lucia than most thought.
“People don’t know the handle of a serial rapist; you don’t know,” the Crisis Centre counselor told the STAR. “You just know that you were raped. It’s unfortunate but it happens; people get raped all the time. Our young ladies
need to be prepared and learn how to be safe. They need to learn how to protect themselves.”
She went on: “There are clients who come in for counseling and some of them have been raped but never reported it. I think the incidences may be even higher than we suspect. We do get people who come in because they have been raped. We get referrals from the police. There are clients who come in and say they were raped somewhere along the way and never reported it.”
For the purposes of this article, the STAR wanted to know what kept women from reporting incidences of rape. From the Crisis Centre viewpoint, fear had a lot to do with the decision by some to remain silent.
“Sometimes it’s a combination of factors,” the counselor continued. “Some people are just too ashamed to talk about it. Some live with relatives and sometimes it’s someone who is related to them and they feel like people won’t believe them. It’s not something that is easy to deal with for a lot of people. Some feel ashamed about it. There are a lot of feelings associated with being violated in that way. These girls or women are afraid people will find out; they are afraid people will treat them differently and they feel they will be stigmatized or discriminated against. Sometimes they don’t have a close relationship with anyone, which they should.     Sometimes there’s incidents where there has been sexual abuse and they tell persons around them who tell them they are lying so they are afraid to say anything like that again.”
If there was truly a case of a serial rapist on the loose the Crisis Centre representative felt
police needed to issue a warning.
“People need to be vigilant,” she said, before listing safety precautions women should take into consideration.
“It’s not safe for a young lady to be alone in an isolated place. If they are alone in an apartment or at home they should be sure to lock up. People have told me
they fell asleep with a window open and someone came in, things like that. It’s not safe to open the door when you don’t know who is there, just as it is risky to go out and have to come back home by yourself late at night, where you have to pass somewhere dark, unsafe, where there are no people around. There’s always a little more safety if you are in a group compared to being alone. Sometimes there is need to let people know where you are if you’re going out, and what time you’re expected to return.
Women should even
consider calling someone to let them know when they’re on the way back, so that person could look out for them.”
The Crisis Centre Counselor felt there was definite need for stiffer penalties when it came to rape on island, and STAR online readers shared a similar point of view:
“We definitely need stiffer penalties for rapists,” an online reader wrote. “We need better facilities
for victims; then and only then will our women
be safe. Ladies please be wise and protect yourself—walk with a small Baygon and a lighter if you have to. Young men need to be taught to respect women from a young age—no means no.”
This issue also brings to the fore whether women should be allowed to carry self-defense products, such as mace, pepper spray or stun guns—which are illegal under St Lucia law—for their own protection.

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