Last updated: 1 December 2017, 12:49 pm
The government of Grenada has outlined steps to tackle child sexual abuse in the country, including a special victims unit and hotline.
This follows the recent formation of a National Committee for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse, which has a mandate to make recommendations on how to curb the issue.
Speaking at the recent budget presentation, Prime Minister Keith Mitchell announced a $300,000 increase for the Ministry of Social Development budget, bringing their allocation of state funds to $39.7 million.
Mitchell said citizens, and women and children in particular, must be protected and that steps have to be undertaken immediately.
“It is extremely alarming that in 2017, approximately 60% of all cases before the courts are related to child sexual abuse and other abuses. A very significant statement,” the prime minister said.
“Let us be very clear on this issue of child abuse, rape, in all forms. Whether it is in the workplace or wherever; they are an evil scourge that tears at the Heart of the Social fabric of our society and must be stopped.
“There can be no politics in that; no matter what side of the political fence it comes, it is fundamentally something that has to affect all of us.”
Among the measures announced is a the establishment of a special victims unit, which will provide counselling and support to victims and their families.
A hotline will also be set up to advise those wishing to report abuse.
Funding has also been set aside to create a sex offender registry, a long-standing request from many in Grenada.
“Sufficient budgetary allocation will be made to implement all planned activities,” Mitchell said.
“We have also heard the overwhelming cries of our people and you were therefore pushing to enact the necessary legislative changes for the establishment of a sex offenders registry that all can see.
“They will be exposed. Let us be very clear: while the government is budgeting more to deal with this issue, it can never be enough to deal with this problem.
“As a people, our collective consciences must be shaken and we must find the resolve to take back our communities and protect our children, our young people and our society.”