Human and Gender Rights advocate Felicia Browne has said that the recent report on the increase in sexual offences in Saint Lucia needs to be evaluated.
According to her, an increase of 11 cases not only signals the fact that sexual violations are being under-reported in St.Lucia because many victims are still afraid to file reports due to the fear of being stigmatized, or even being held responsible for the sexual violation.
Browne is adamant that the time has come for women to take the lead and ensure that rape, in particular gang-rape, carries similar penalties to offences like murder.
“Violence against women has too often been seen as a minor offence in which the victim is usually blamed as much if not more than the perpetrator,” she added.
Browne said though she agrees that stricter laws should be implemented, she is adamant that additional laws on their own will not provide victims with the protection that is needed.
She went on to state that “raping a woman and in some cases a male, is a life sentence. The victim has to live with those psychological and physical traumas for the rest of her/his life.”
“I believe that it is time that women and girls take the lead and demand that stricter penalties be implemented but also psychiatric evaluations for perpetrators who may suffer with sexual aggression and imbalances,” she remarked.
The regional gender rights advocate also believes that some perpetrators are sexual predators and should be treated for their illnesses; while others without mental disorders should serve longer imprisonment terms- including a life sentence.
Browne maintains that effective legislations which include psychiatric evaluation and treatment for sexual offences have had significant outcomes for public safety.
Although treatment does not eliminate sexual crime, research supports the view that treatment can decrease sex offenses and protect potential victims.
Studies have also shown that in the minority of sex offenders who are mentally ill, adequate treatment of the underlying mental illness may in some cases be sufficient to reduce the risk of further sex offending.
However, in other cases the patient’s abnormal sexual fantasy life may be independent of psychosis and require additional treatment, Browne noted.
There has been a marked growth in recent years in cognitive–behavioural treatment of sex offenders.