It’s On Us Dominica

Dominica is at a very vulnerable state as she’s been ravaged by what may very well be classified as a Category “6” Hurricane. Sexual violence/Assault during such times is a gross human rights violation and a serious security issue that must be addressed. Sexual Violence/Assault by military officers is an issue that urgently requires the attention of leaders in Dominica. It’s time to lévé Dominique, and start to demand recognition and justice for victims and survivors. Leaders must understand that these opportunistic and vile behaviours are quite frankly abhorrent. We all know the many failings, irregularities and shortfalls of the Dominica justice system. Dominica judiciary lacks baseline procedures for rape survivors – What is needed is a better drafted comprehensive Sexual Assault Survivors’ law to be passed in parliament that standardizes the best practices and is then implemented Islandwide.

The questions I must ask after the recent Pay-4- Play scandal involving members in Parliament and persons of affluence in the
Dominican society and the prime minister publicly standing in solidarity “ locking shoulder to shoulder” with his comrade, the accused, are – Can we expect any laws to protect our women and children with even the leader of government tolerating such behaviors? How could such persons even be entrusted with ensuring the safety of our women and girls? How can such representatives to a legislative parliament be charged to make the necessary laws and decisions for the country? Is this also why the “Relief” soldiers feel free to sexually abuse our women and girls? After all, “Inaction, and even inadequate Action, destroys lives” truer words could not have been spoken by the Dominica Labour Party led government leader at the UN just 52 days ago – I would hope he begin to practice what he preached as the lack of political will is perpetuating these abusive and criminal behaviors.

Being raped is already an injustice, let’s not make survivors suffer an even greater injustice by doing nothing. What is the point of a legal system that you can’t right wrong or at least restore justice? Why should rape survivors continually be
victimized over and over again by the system that is supposed to protect them? It is now widely known that our women and children are subject to military personnel abuse of power, sexual violence – yet nothing is being done but gossip. This is a crime against humanity! This is a violation of human rights!

These so called protectors of the public raping our girls are undermining the efforts, and the integrity of the true humanitarian workers. At this point, I’m calling for more women military service into Dominica as the current perpetrators of this crime
against humanity is perpetuated by male soldiers. I am calling for swift action, for protection of our women against rape and abuse and to penalize offenders to the full extent of the law, especially those from the foreign forces. I am calling for Minister Rayburn Blackmore and Police Chief Carbon to act immediately on this gross human rights violation occurring in DOMINICA Post Hurricane Maria.

You and Parliamentarians in Dominica have a legal duty to comply with the terms of the international human rights conventions that Dominica has ratified or acceded to; you are obligated to uphold the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women 1994 and abide by the laws of Dominica, namely the SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT 1998, Unlawful sexual
connection, Inducing sexual intercourse or sexual connection by force, duress etc Just to name a few. Like the Prime Minister so rightly stated at the UN, “the war is in DOMINICA” – The fact is, our women and children have become the spoils of this war.

The heinous actions of some of the military personnel especially of that of certain individuals who have been identified as “credibly suspected” of commuting rape would then be constituted as a war crime. The leaders of Dominica are making a decision to either tolerate these gross acts against humanity or the decision to prohibit it. To date, we have seen zero positive action protecting our women and girls during this Climate Change waged “War”. It’s not too late. Taking the right and effective steps, will minimize the heightened levels of sexual violence faced under the hands of military personnel, in fact any humanitarian worker. When will we as a people pause to really understand how devastating this is to our country?

When will we pause and think about the domino effect of the long term impacts of these vile and gross behaviors against our women and girls? We must speak up to challenge the stereotypical attitudes that is dominant in Dominica which help to perpetuate violence against women and girls and undermines the seriousness of offenses. Activism has declined in DOMINICA and I’ll have you know that if we as a people can’t come together to protect our women and our girls, we have failed as a society, as a people. We simply cannot stand by and watch our women and girls raped, terrorized, victimized by uniformed personnel or anyone.

What I know for sure is that we are strengthened when we come together and NO ONE can silence us if we want to be heard. As so eloquently stated by the PM and I quote,: “Let it spark a thousand points of light, not shame.” We talk of progress and building better, well we need to DO BETTER! Answer this call to put an end to sexual violence once and for all. Your activism, you speaking up and out, you standing up, you caring, is what will influence actions by our leaders. THE TIME TO STAND UP IS NOW Dominicans; It’s on us!

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