(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – Between 2000 and 2019, there were 6,047 rapes reported in Trinidad and Tobago.
More than 73 per cent of victims were between the ages of 7 and 24.
Independent Senator Paul Richards referenced these statistics yesterday as he contributed to the Senate debate on the motion to approve the Sexual Offences (Amendment to Schedule 1) Order, 2020.
Richards said the figures were startling.
“It means we have a problem in Trinidad & Tobago…a significant problem. There are predators and rapists roaming our streets.”
Richards said rape and other sexual offences are often under-reported and the true figure could be more than double the amount of reported cases.
“You could easily double or multiply by 5 or 6 to get a more accurate picture,” he said.
“This type of criminality is extremely heinous…it is really sad that this is happening in our country.”
Despite this, Richards said the rate of conviction was low.
In the same time period, only 1,455 perpetrators were convicted for sexual offences.
He attributed the low conviction rate to inadequacies in the criminal justice system and said the motion was “extremely easy” to support as it seeks to ensure justice for victims.
Contributing to the debate, Opposition Senator Khadijah Ameen also lamented the low conviction rate of sexual offenders, noting that only about 20 per cent of reports lead to convictions.
Wrapping up debate on the motion, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said although there have been over 1,600 convictions for sexual offences in T&T, none have been added to the sex offenders registry.
“Nobody was enforcing the laws,” he said.
“We have taken a different approach to track and enforce the laws.”
The motion was approved with support from the Opposition and Independent bench.
Earlier in the sitting, Al Rawi noted that senators and Parliamentary staff had come out to work amidst concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in T&T.
He said he was pleased that they turned up for duty so that laws to protect the country could be debated.
Al Rawi said the government falls in the category of essential services and is no different from healthcare workers and law enforcement and as such, they had a responsibility to turn up for duty.
Special seating arrangements were however put in place to practice social distancing in the chamber.