(GIS) – Minister for Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment, Hon. Lenard Montoute said there are a number of factors that should be revisited when dealing with cases of sexual abuse and domestic violence.
One of these, he said, is the “wangeman” phenomena here in Saint Lucia, which he believes, impedes the processing of some of these cases.
“Very often the social workers and the law enforcement officers respond but along the way the matter is dropped because there is some personal outside arrangement that is taken and the people patch up without any serious consequences to the perpetrator,” he said. “We have all of those factors to take into consideration. So there is education, there is an increase in provision of the requisite resources and there is the management aspect as well to ensure accountability that people who are supposed to do what they ought to do actually do it.”
The minister went on to say that he would support the enactment of laws that would allow such cases to proceed, even after arrangements between the alleged perpetrators and victims.
“I would certainly support legislation that, when an issue arises, it is pursued irrespective of your cooperation, that the law enforcement agencies can pursue it and ensure that the perpetrator is punished or brought to justice rather,” he added.
He noted, however, that in tandem with such laws, the state should be obligated to provide for the safety and care of victims while such matters are being investigated or are before the courts.
“I think as a state we have the responsibility to provide the avenues for that person to be safe. Because very often it’s an economic issue or a safety issue why they give in and just drop the matter. So if the person has to pursue that matter, you may very well be living with that man, you will have to find somewhere else to live while the matter is being pursued. I think the state should step in when it comes to safety, and ensure that we provide the protection that the individual requires along with the law.”