Sun | Dec 17, 2017

WE-Change urges sensitisation of police officers

Published:Thursday | November 16, 2017 | 12:08 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The recent arrest of a mother reporting the sexual abuse of her son by police officers at the Clarks Town Police Station is a glaring example of the weaknesses of the police force in handling sensitive matters.

Notwithstanding the establishment of the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) within the police force, there continues to be complaints by several Jamaicans, including women, reporting incidences of sexual violence, about the lack of sensitivity displayed by members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

While a specialised unit within the force is a welcome initiative, there is an urgent need to ensure that the majority of, if not all, police officers are equipped with the requisite tools to receive, record and sensitively respond to victims who attend any police station to report an incident of sexual violence, particularly against children. The Clarks Town Arrest is a vivid representation of the gaps within the system.

Women's Empowerment for Change (WE-Change) are of the view that any parent or civilian who seeks to report sexual abuse to the police should be accorded with due regard to the potential emotional trauma which comes with being or being close to the victim of such a violent crime. This due regard should be heightened where the victim is a child, particularly a child of tender years. It cannot be considered good practice for the police to arrest anyone who does not act docile or agreeable enough when making a report.

WE-Change therefore urge the JCF High Command to take steps to sanction the officer who carried out the arrest as well as begin a process of sensitising police officers about the appropriate way to handle incidences of child sexual abuse, regardless of how officers feel about a particular complainant.

Women's Empowerment for Change