Mon | Oct 14, 2019

Rapes plummet, but cops urge caution

Published:Wednesday | February 6, 2019 | 7:08 AM

The police have warned Jamaicans not to celebrate too early despite a more than 50 per cent plunge, year-on-year, in rape reported in the first 33 days of 2019.

According to police statistics, up to February 2, there were 27 reports of rape islandwide compared to 58 last year. This is against 80 rape cases reported for the same period in 2015, 61 in 2016, and 57 in 2017.

At the same time, the police this year reported the largest clear-up rate of rape cases over the same period since 2015.

Twenty-three of the 27 cases reported this year have been cleared up, in contrast to 21 of 58 cases last year, and 21 of 57 in 2017. A case is ‘cleared up’ if a suspect is either charged or dies.

Head of the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), Superintendent Charmaine Shand, said that while a drop in the numbers is welcome, the scars on rape victims are deep.

“Rape is oftentimes very traumatic. Most times, it leaves a permanent scar on children. Families become dysfunctional. Most times, victims are fearful, embarrassed,” said Shand yesterday, adding that the matter worsens when the offender is a relative of the victim.

“Adult women who have been sexually abused as children often have problems forming and keeping good relationships … . Some parents are quick to part with a (raped) child who they might see as a mischief maker,” she continued.

“Thank God that the numbers are down, and I wait impatiently for the day that we exist in a utopia where rape is not something that exists,” offered Tatiana Answer, public relations coordinator for female lobby group Woman Inc.

“It makes me feel sick to my stomach, and it really does not matter if the victim is a man or woman. I only hope that the number reported is the actual number of persons raped, and not just the number of reports that come to the police,” continued Answer.

Many victims never get over the trauma, despite repeated counselling, Answer added.

Police advice for rape victims

1. Victims should report rape cases as soon as possible. There is a 72-hour window to obtain possible forensic evidence.

2. A rapist can be a friend, neighbour, relative or stranger. It is not your fault; seek help.

3.Fear and embarrassment is common among victims. Nonetheless, seek medical and psychological help as soon as possible.

4. CISOCA and agencies such as the Child Protection and Family Services Agency offer safe environments for victims.