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Image courtesy: http://fandom4saa.wordpress.com/An article in the UK’s Daily Mail is reporting on the alleged rape and attack of two British Charity workers on St. Lucia. This news also comes on the heels of investigations into reports of rapes and sexual assault from U.S. Peace Corps volunteers. When incidents such as these happen, countries are quick to protect their political and financial interest. Often, one of the first questions asked is ‘how will this affect tourism in the short term and in the long run?’

However, more questions needs to be asked of the culture in which women–whether nationals or foreigners–are victims of rape and sexual assault. And, we need to focus more on understanding why young men commit such crimes. Over the years, I’ve seen a rise in wanting to blame ‘society’ and ‘media’ without really knowing what implications these terms have on male socialization. Much have been written about hyper-sexualization of Caribbean men.

Our region has among the highest rates of sexual assault in the region. I’m sure any reported number is lower than actual happenings simply because many of these incidents go unreported. According to a Kaieteur News Online article on a UNIFEM report released last year,

“Sexual violence against women is high across the Caribbean, with all CARICOM countries showing higher than the global average per capita rates. This is according to United Nation Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).”UNIFEM disclosed that crisis centres report significant under-reporting of all forms of sexual violence as victims lack confidence in the administration of justice. “Women victims did not expect police sympathy and would only report with great reluctance.””

What is the best way to go about gathering data on the determinants on rape and sexual assault across the region? Considering that many cases are not reported, what can be done to inform and educate women-and men-about the impact of such abuses on the individual, family and community lives as well as on the population level? What types of interventions (structural?) might be implemented to decrease the prevalence and incidence of sexual assault and rape in our society?

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