‘The Difficulties and Complicated Cases of Rape Victims in the Caribbean’

BY R.D. Miller

He strikes once more: Another warning about sexual assault:

Stuck in traffic on a commuter bus one evening heading home from work, I came across an article published on October 2, 2018, by the Detroit Free Press about two women raped in Jamaica at an exclusive hotel by an employee hired a few days earlier.

He crawled up a balcony, armed with a handgun, and raped both of them in their hotel room. These victims retaliated by shooting him in the arm with his weapon.

They apprehended him after he sought medical attention at a nearby hospital, which notified law enforcement.

Local law enforcement brought this sexual predator in for questioning in other suspected rape cases in another parish, but he managed to flee on foot. This search, like many others before it, ended in a dead end.

Minimization results in re-victimization.

Some argued that it is not just a Caribbean issue, or a single incident or misunderstanding.

As the Caribbean region struggles to maintain a firm grip on sexual violence, this is a method of deflecting negative press through minimization, shame, and guilt, and, as many reports have shown, it is due to a lack of resources and hopelessness.

It was much easier to join a few others on social media on the subject, where some overlooked the burden women frequently face from counter-attacks by the uninformed about liability or culpability when raped and seeking justice.

According to studies, in many rape cases, some suspect that she asked for it by flirting, dressing provocatively, or being promiscuous outside the safety of their homes.

The reality

Rape is simply an unlawful sexual activity carried out forcibly against someone’s will, regardless of location, how one dresses, flirtation, or conversation.

This attitude discourages victims from coming forward and further isolates the seriousness of sexual assault crimes along these beautiful shores, which necessitate immediate response while holding offenders accountable.

The audacity that silence, and when it is reported, makes it less credible, or that it should disappear, must be debunked.

Again, it does not look good for these venues, and the victim is frequently lost in these debates. As I frequently say, I have a few sisters, numerous nieces and nephews, friends, and relatives, and some have similar stories.

Approximately 2.6 percent of men reported having been raped or attempted to be raped at some point in their lives.

Before the age of 25, approximately 81.3 percent of female victims and 70.8 percent of male victims had their first completed or attempted rape.

Meanwhile, only 25 of every 1,000 perpetrators will be imprisoned.

Time for a discussion

Since the incident in Jamaica, others have spoken out about their own experiences at some of these five-star hotels. There were stories kept hidden for decades because they were teenagers afraid of ruining their parents’ vacation.

What if these hotels were treated like a college campus, where studies show that nearly 28 percent of college students surveyed reported unwanted sexual contact. It would help, just like any other sign, to deter emergencies or raise awareness.

Photo by Athena

Perhaps new welcome packages for all visitors should include a section on how to deal with sexual assaults, suspicion, and unwanted behavior, and available resources.

The emphasis, particularly in resorts, is simply on raising awareness, providing adequate services, and providing victims with a safe haven.

The gay and lesbian community has also been the victim of rapes and murders. These cases are up against a tidal wave because many people still consider same-sex relationships to be sinful.

According to some statistics, between 25 and 35 percent of women will be raped at some time in their life, and many of them particularly will opt not to come forward.

Victims of rape or sexual assault are four times more likely to be 16-19-year-old women than the overall population.

A woman is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds. Every 9 minutes, a child is a victim. Meanwhile, only 25 of every 1,000 perpetrators will be imprisoned. I’m not going to bore you with any more statistics, but you get the picture.

I’m also concerned about those who haven’t spoken up, such as high school students. And, yes, Aunt Jane, or a young male who still sings in the church choir but their heads down in the bible waiting for the pastor to make a decision, could be the perpetrator.

Photo by RODNAE Productions

Most importantly, an employee whose livelihood is reliant on that income sees these sexual predators daily in a hostile environment but remains silent out of fear.

In all cases, make sure you’re treating everyone fairly, but a thorough background check is essential.

Local managers and human resources must now re-evaluate their hiring policies and practices, even though it is difficult to determine the intent of these predators.

The institutional barriers and the economics of rape:

Tourism has historically been the Caribbean region’s economic motor in former colonial rulers left more of the region.

According to analysts, this business contributes to as much as 40% of the Gross Domestic Product on some islands (GDP)

Photo by Leonardo Rossatti

Also, billions of dollars are invested in resources, and while an image is important, so is safety, which I am sure managers take seriously, and there must be accountability to overcome the barriers that may affect their bottom line.

For instance, a discussion can delve into hiring managers’ practices and where cheap labor or a connection may be more important than a background check.

This would have verified that an individual is who they claim to be, and it would have provided an opportunity to check and confirm the validity of someone’s criminal record, education, and employment history, but let’s get back to today, not we will, were going to, it should be, and maybe:

This recent international case will have no immediate impact on the island or anyone else dealing with rape cases on their shores. Regrettably, the majority of these victims only seek solutions quietly.

However, if there were widespread calls to avoid some of these areas, it may send a different system, even though, as previously stated, their bottom line would suffer.

Furthermore, despite laws that hold offenders accountable for their actions on these islands, another systemic issue that has been reported is the slow pace of the judicial system or overcrowding in corrections.

Some victims have expressed concern that some perpetrators are being released into the community with few or no treatment options.

Sure, there may be new policies to address this issue, but it is never at the right pace for victims and many others.

Many offenders are frequently released back into these communities if they can afford bail.

Unfortunately, some may strike again, not only revictimizing existing victims but also creating new ones. However, sentencing could be improved to reduce the likelihood of recidivism, particularly in terms of victim rights, rehabilitation, tracking, and swift punishment.

Victims frequently spend several hours at police stations filing an incident, and an opportunity to collect DNA evidence if equipped quickly fades.

Reporting rape or domestic violence incidents is not always handled properly, as some victims report.

Overcoming unrealistic suspicions because the victim may have had a relationship with the perpetrators.

According to reports, many rural courts lack the resources to even order an expert assessment to diagnose and treat these dangerous offenders.

Concerns about cases being held for extended periods before trial while some predators are released on bail, free to move like the ocean, only to target victims and re-offend.

Specialized training to handle sensitive cases remains a problem. Some victims’ interviews were conducted in public. When someone comes forward, poorly run and underfunded medical systems lack the skills and authority to guide them.

In an earlier report, it was stated that a foreign student on a study abroad program was sexually assaulted and robbed and that she was brought to the airport in her pajamas and covered in dried blood after spending nine hours in a hospital.

Ideological shifts or a blame game

Scholars are still divided on the role of masculinity and patriarchy in these communities. Others point to colonialism when rape was common practice, but we live in the twenty-first century, and there are several laws passed as well as training and accountability, that have debunked this ideology.

Photo by Engin Akyurt

What role do music lyrics, misogynistic views, and over-sexualization of women play? Is it a cultural, normative, and long silence of unwanted attention that appears to be normal in some of these communities to demonstrate masculinity?

Although the Atlantic slave trade, which brought millions of African slaves to the region, is still a dark period and a complicated issue, these islands are now far more educated and unbounded.

I was going to speak about women’s upward mobility in particular and the need for a mental shift among those who believe she must be pregnant and stay in the kitchen.

What role does gender equity, female empowerment, mean today when it comes to the haves vs. have-nots, especially people of color regardless of location in holding leaders accountable, but that’s another global conversation, and I have no rights here as a dude. Let’s go!

The obligation of these islands:

These victims face long-term physical and emotional trauma, confusion, anger, suspicion, anxiety, and the negative perception that often follows.

How many rape cases in the region resulted in a conviction, were dismissed, or went unresolved? Several women who still live on these islands or have migrated have similar stories but have chosen to remain silent.

Law enforcement cannot do it alone; they, too, lack the resources needed to track down and solve these criminal cases.

The Caribbean region and its gated resorts are now at a crossroads in terms of dealing with complaints in a timely and effective manner. Solving these problems necessitates education, training, and accountability.

The US embassy also issued a warning about sexual assaults in residence hotel rooms, casinos, and cruise ships. Another report from 2014 mentioned a woman who was gang-raped and others who were sexually assaulted at the Sandals Resort in The Bahamas.

Additional reports from Mexico, where approximately 170 tourists became ill, as well as blackouts in which offenders used date rape drugs and tainted alcohol in drinks. According to several reports, over 70 Americans have been sexually assaulted in Jamaica in the last seven years.

Unfortunately, many stories like this will be forgotten, and over half a million people will return to these islands for a vacation, but it has opened a much-needed awareness and conversation along these shores.

Sexual predators come in a variety of shapes and sizes:

Then there’s someone you know and trust, like a family member, someone in authority, or a powerful person in the community who everyone looks up to, or someone who has serious mental health issues but has never been treated.

See if you can spot the wolf in sheep’s clothing

You also can’t rule out the possibility that this person was a victim previously, and because there was no justice, a safe place to tell their story, seek revenge as a form of payback, that led to gratification, obsession, and then it became an ideology that will not fade away.

Many sex offenders, according to reports, have schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders and are three times more likely to have a history of bipolar disorder.

No, it is not an excuse, but it raises the question of what the purpose of good governance is, 

Furthermore, as I previously stated, these individuals’ power, rest, and respect often provide them with a platform to continue this behavior.

As an example, consider a perverted doctor who is more interested in his patients’ underwear than the basic examination, or a teacher who engages and exploits the vulnerability of a young student.

These microaggressions are just as dangerous as breaking down a window to gain entry or being staked in the community or on public transportation.

Take a stand, make your voice heard, speak out to influence the course of events, demand accountability, and so on.

Many of you who are inextricably linked to this beautiful region, whether by heritage, roots, or culture, will act as unofficial marketing managers, referring others to the region for vacation.

When they asked about safety, can you say with certainty that you will be in a gated area if the threats are also within today?

The “Me-Too” movement has given victims a platform to speak out about their horrifying experiences with powerful men who have misbehaved.

Even though few men were fired or charged with a crime, several organizations survived, the culture lives on.

As feminist movements have pointed out, men’s sexual violence is motivated by a desire to exert power over women. However, in order to reduce the risk, they pose to society, these individuals require treatment and close monitoring, and must be held accountable.

In addition, there should be a national registry that keeps track of these offenders.

When will the next law enforcement operation be launched to apprehend sexual predators, who are as dangerous as any other high-powered weapon due to their dysfunctional brains?

While I have no financial or political ties, I believe in humanity, public safety, rehabilitation, and accountability. I should also mention that I write for free.

When other people are in pain, we are all affected.

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