Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 7th 2018 Contents A20
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
More than victims of other crimes, survivors of rape
and sexual abuse relive the trauma over and over as
their cases go through this country’s criminal justice
In addition to the ordeal of being physically, mentally
and emotionally violated, they also have to suffer at
the hands of insensitive and unprofessional police
officers and medical examiners. It is the biggest reason
why many victims choose to suffer in silence rather
than seek justice. That means many sex offenders
escape arrest and prosecution, leaving them free to
carry out further attacks.
However, even that disturbing insight into the plight
of survivors, given by Marian Taylor at Monday’s
launch of Model Guidelines for Sexual Offences Cases
in the Caribbean Region, does not portray the full
extent of those horrific experiences. Closure, if it is
ever achieved, is often a long, painful process, not
helped by the paucity of support services and deeply
entrenched myths about sex crimes which expose
victims to stigma and discrimination.
With the launch of the Guidelines, the hope is that
real change will be effected in T&T’s law enforcement
and judicial systems giving real support to victims
of sex crimes, including reduction of the time it
takes between arrest and conviction and complete
eradication of practices that cause re-victimisation.
This country, where even in times of economic
abundance, resources are often not allocated in the
places and quantities that can make a real difference,
needs to ensure things are done differently and better
this time around.
The sea bridge saga continues
An anniversary no one in country wants to observe
is fast approaching—a full year since the Super Fast
Galicia sailed away from T&T, triggering turmoil and
disruptions on the sea bridge.A possible resolution
of all that ails the sea bridge is still not within reach.
The recently purchased Galleons Passage is on a
frustratingly slow journey to the Caribbean and is not
expected to dock in Port-of-Spain until late April.
Given these and other circumstances, it is not
surprising that Tobago businesses and truckers—whose
patience must be completely exhausted by now—plan
to shut down the island. Government and the Tobago
House of Assembly need to sit up and pay attention.
Justice for children
The opening of Children Courts in St Clair and Fyzabad
means that T&T’s youngest citizens will receive fair,
humane treatment when they face the judicial system,
whether as victim or offender. This country needs
more welcoming, youth-friendly courtrooms.
Victims should not relive trauma
Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, centre,
along with pupils of the La Pastora Government Primary School display the “Wakanda Forever
Salute” before they viewed Black Panther, starring Tobago-born Winston Duke at MovieTowne,
Port-of-Spain, yesterday. They were among 120 students from schools in the San Juan district
who were sponsored tickets by Lanston Roach Industries Ltd.
PICTURE KERWIN PIERRE
Racapturing the islands
secrecy over openness.
Following last year’s hurricane
disasters, for example, the tour-
ism minister of Sint Maarten ex-
plicitly advised against the arrival
of foreign journalists while, in
other instances, there was a clear
dilemma created by the need to
suppress worst-case scenarios
while not shutting down the pros-
pects for external financial aid.
In the end, it was the heroic in-
terventions of local journalists on
the ground that most clearly told
the stories that needed to be told.
Shadowy “bloggers”, “false news”
carriers and prominent Facebook
trolls remained under their beds–
only to re-emerge in full fury when
the dark clouds disappeared.
By the time we were through
on Saturday, it was clear that
CDEMA–which had responded
magnificently to last year’s hur-
ricane events–the region’s de-
velopment agencies, and the
representatives of journalists’ or-
ganisations throughout the Carib-
bean were on the same page.
We all appeared to concede
that this region is ours and as in
Barbadian poet Kamau Brath-
waite’s poem, South, we endeav-
our to “recapture the islands’/
bright beaches: blue mist from
the ocean/rolling into the fish-
ermen’s houses...” We all agreed
that turning peril to disaster re-
quired human beings and their
willingness/ability to engage the
challenge. We’re not there yet.
financed the exercise.
This was no gravy train. There
were no freecos on offer. Just Car-
ibbean journalists and some part-
ners concerned about the future
of the Caribbean space we occupy.
But even as we spoke on Satur-
day, Jamaica was being rocked by
a magnitude 4 earthquake, Guy-
ana’s seawall at Uitvlugt in West
Demerara was being breached by
giant waves off the Atlantic and,
on Sunday, uncharacteristically
heavy dry season rain caused
flooding in parts of east Trinidad.
Throughout the region, high surf
episodes threatened coastlines
and, in some cases, were accom-
panied by sargassum invasions
that threatened fisheries, tourism
and seaside aesthetics.
A significant part of the pre-
paredness matrix is the free flow
of news and information about
realities on the ground. The ex-
change of views in Barbados how-
ever confirmed that there needs
to be much more work on the
relationships involving disaster
management officials, the govern-
ments under whose banner they
function and the media who are
expected to facilitate the flow of
potentially life-saving informa-
tion to citizens before, during and
after dangerous events that have
the potential to become disasters.
It appears that everywhere
there is an insistence on pre-
serving a culture of information
control and a tendency toward
am just back from a fantas-
tic two days in Barbados
where Caribbean journal-
ists got together, on their
own steam and without
prompting from anyone
else, to discuss the quality of re-
gional reporting of disasters and
ways to improve on the quality
of performance in this important
Now no longer at the helm, I
can dispense with measured mod-
esty over the work of the 17-year-
old Association of Caribbean
MediaWorkers (ACM) by saying
that I know of no other regional
NGO that has achieved so much,
with so little.
Our new president, Anika
Kentish of Antigua & Barbuda is
a respected, competent journalist
and leader and I am certain she
will continue the struggle with
dignity and pride.
Last week’s event brought to-
gether representatives of eight
national media associations and
five national media focal points
from Antigua & Barbuda, Barba-
dos, Dominica, Grenada, Guy-
ana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique,
St Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, St
Vincent and the Grenadines, Suri-
name and T&T.
We were the ones doing the in-
viting. It was our event. And who
responded to the invitations?
The Caricom Secretariat, the
Caribbean Regional Disaster and
Emergency Management Agency
(CDEMA), the Caribbean Broad-
casting Union (CBU), the Caricom
Climate Change Centre (CCCCC),
the Public Media Alliance of the
UK (PMA), the UN Food and Ag-
riculture Organisation (FAO),
UNESCO, UNIC and the Latin
American and Caribbean Alliance
of IFEX–the free expression or-
ganisation with which the ACM is
affiliated and whose parent body
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