Orville Taylor, Contributor
If you think any religious bigot, human-rights activist, children's advocate, or Ministry of Education official is going to get an apology from me for saying that the administration of Cornwall College punked out, you have me mistaken for the tailors who cut cloth.
Something awful is happening in the west of our country, and our administrators and political administration pussyfoot and hole up in their dens of ignorance, like ostriches, telling us to defile my favourite colour. Our young men are in danger of destroying the very fabric of this country, and although they are 'children', sometimes one has to use boxing gloves instead of kids' gloves.
Teenage boys commit major crimes. These range from the stealing of school supplies, to extortion, fondling of females, sexual battery, and gang rape called 'battery'. All these take place on school compounds and oftentimes with the complicity or apathy of their peers. Sometimes it is fear, but many times it is simply that they learned from their parents and other adults to mind their own business or to avoid becoming informers. Being a minor doesn't make a high-school student harmless. Just a few days ago, two boys, students in a private high school, abducted a female student ostensibly for the purpose of sex crimes.
Does anyone remember the assault of female teachers? Perhaps the agitators don't know that in one of those schools, when an attractive female reporter went to cover the incident, the boys made improper advances to her. Allowing boys to get away with crimes under the stupid guise of there being internal procedures is being just plain dumb. That is why students have assaulted teachers, broken the leg of a dean of discipline, and committed myriad atrocities.
Criminals do not suddenly become hardened deviants at the stroke of midnight on their 18th birthday. Furthermore, some, like defective plants in a field, and runts in a litter of pups or calves, will never grow up to become viable adults. Nature has a way of eliminating these. However, humans have an obligation to socialise them as much as possible to prevent them from becoming dysfunctional or dangerous. Certainly, we don't want our young men to become rapists or sex offenders.
Last week, five females, including an eight-year-old child, were raped. In the worst kind of initiation to sexuality, the child was ripped apart by scum, whose existence on this earth is yet to be justified.
For the teenagers and the adults who suffered this indignity, it is just about the worst thing that can happen to a person. And, as awful as it is to us who are imagining it, it is infinitely more traumatic for the persons who experienced it. Some of my media friends, with a penchant for dropping adjectives, use words like 'horrendous', 'brutal' and 'terrifying' to describe the attacks. The fact is, there is no need to put any such word to it. All forms of rape are horrific, even when the person by whom it is perpetrated is a familiar, regular partner or spouse.
Whether it is done to female or male, it is a heinous crime, and the victim lives a lifetime of shame, pain, hopelessness, low self-esteem and worthlessness. Suicide is often a lifelong companion, and for some persons who underwent this horror, it is a daily occurrence, while others have continuous nightmares. Thus, the survivor is raped countless times in her or his life, and for almost all of them, the trauma never ends.
GROW THEM RIGHT
The human body is sacrosanct, and no other human, even if he 'purchased' it with a band of gold and has a certificate or contract signed by both under a covenant of matrimony, owns it. And we have to teach our children this and teach them early. Research demonstrates that sexual abuse is essentially learnt behaviour, and depending on the population, as much as 70 per cent of sex offenders were themselves victims of adults or other predators who fed on them when they were young.
Sex offenders are not normal persons with decent value systems. Many psychologists and psychiatrists consider them to have mental disorders, while sociologists like me believe that it is mostly the result of socialisation. Nevertheless, it doesn't matter how they got there, the question is: How do we treat them? As is the case with homicide, there is no conclusive evidence that the State killing the convict is a deterrent.
Indeed, advocates such as Judy Benitez, executive director for the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault, believe the death penalty for child rapists might be counterproductive because, "If the offenders know that they don't face any greater risk for killing the victim than they do for raping the victim, what is their incentive for letting the victim live?"
The savage beast within us, like the chimpanzee which shares 98 per cent of our DNA, has a strong bloodlust, and we have fantasies about torturing the offender, eviscerating, castrating or incinerating him. In some communities, despite the rule of law, suspects are lynched, as took place last week in Trelawny when two boys were found drowned and the stepfather of a reputed homosexual illogically murdered. The executions are simply raw revenge.
However, the idea that rapists should be killed is not simply the remit of mindless, bloodthirsty Cimarrons. Under Islamic Shari'a, practised in many Middle Eastern and African nations, rape is punishable by death. Roger Hood did a survey of rape laws and reported that a long list of countries have the death penalty for child rape. It is not clear where Hood stands, however; China, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lesotho, Malawi, Mongolia, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and, not surprisingly, Cuba, will put you to death for child rape.EXECUTE THEM
Yet, more 'civilised' people and nations believe that convicted child rapists should be executed, whether or not the juvenile dies. Up to 2008, six states in the great land of Uncle Sam, including Louisiana, had the death penalty for rape. Previously, it took a 1977 US Supreme Court ruling in Coker v Georgia, that the death penalty for the rape of an adult was "grossly disproportionate ... excessive punishment," and thus unconstitutional. But the sanction remained for child rape. Finally, the 2008 case of State of Louisiana v Patrick Kennedy, decided by a split vote among nine judges, gave a similar judgment.
Nevertheless, attorney Barack Obama, reacting to the ruling, stated, "I have said repeatedly that ... the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstances ... the rape of a small child, six or eight years old, is a heinous crime and ... the death penalty is at least potentially applicable ... . That does not violate our Constitution."
Nonetheless, to punish them, we have to catch them. True, police intelligence and DNA capabilities make a big difference. However, many rapes do not get reported because of the shame, fear and the cloak of silence which even our political leaders spread to cover wrongs. That is why I have no apologies for persons, even teenage boys, being inconvenienced by the police for shutting up and protecting criminals.
So, in approaching this crime issue and in particular these attacks on women and children, I need more from our leaders than them telling us to bring a negative spin to the colour which Marcus Garvey tried to give pride. I want exemplary, honest and decisive leadership, and make the young men follow.
Dr Orville Taylor is senior
lecturer in sociology at the UWI and a radio talk-show host. Email
feedback to email@example.com and