The sexual abuse of children ranks among the most heinous forms of barbarity that we are able to contemplate. The idea that someone is capable of inflicting such catastrophic and lasting damage on an innocent, unsuspecting minor sparks outrage among right-thinking members of this and every society.
Bahamians gather in droves to heckle, shout and express their indignation when an accused child rapist is brought down to appear in court. Recently, when a man suspected of raping a 12-year-old girl was shot and killed on his doorstep, neighbors gathered around to clap and sing.
In 2011, the Ingraham administration gave voice to our collective disgust when it amended the Sexual Offences Act to include a range of stiffer penalties. The latest individual to feel the wrath was former teacher and convicted child abuser Andre Birbal, who was sentenced to serve 28 years in prison.
In light of all this, it was a bitter pill to swallow recently when we learned that between 2000 and 2013 more than 2,700 children had reported being sexually abused in The Bahamas. The figure is nearly double the number of reported adult rape victims, and does not account for the many who were likely too afraid to report.
Releasing the statistics, Dr. Sandra Dean-Patterson of the Bahamas Crisis Centre also revealed that 45 percent of sexually active girls disclosed that they were forced or somewhat forced to have sex.
Clearly, we have a serious child abuse problem in The Bahamas.