ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Dec 6, CMC – Social Development Minister, Delma Thomas, Tuesday called for a more radical approach to dealing with matters of sexual abuse and urged religious organisations various church to speak out against  this social scourge which can have long term implications on children.

“We have to take a radical approach to deal with issues that confronts our children, we have to go out more to the schools, more to the communities, and I want to call once more again to the church, I said before as Christians as church we cannot sit down and worship…we also in our church must speak against child abuse,” Thomas told reporters at the weekly news conference following the Cabinet meeting here.

sexual-harassmentShe said the Cabinet has started the process of appointing a broad-based committee that will guide Government’s policy as it relates to how to handle matters of child abuse in all its forms.

“How we look at the laws, what about a sex offender’s registry, it is something that I have raise at the level of the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) and I know they are looking into it. Anything that can deter offenders from getting involved with children,” she said.

“We cannot sit idly by and accept our children to be abused. Everyone who have children should be concerned,” said Thomas, who explained that the committee will be reviewing all the laws as it relates to sexually related offenses.

In 2010, the then Tillman Thomas administration amended the Criminal Code to increase the age of rape and other sexually related offenses. A rape conviction carried a maximum 33 year jail term but to date there is no court records of any perpetrator receiving that sentence.

Data from the courts here show that more than one third of all cases listed for the Assizes are sexually related offenses. Recently, a police officer was among several men found guilty of sexually abusing his daughter. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday.

The Committee is expected to have representation from the Ministry of Legal Affairs and child rights advocates and experts.

Among the names of persons already mention for inclusion on the committee are Jacqueline Sealy-Burke, the director at the Legal Aid and Counselling Clinic and human rights advocate Lady Anande Trotman-Joseph.

The two are well known regionally and international for the work they have done with UNICEF and other UN agencies.

“The committee will be using the Ministry of Legal Affairs a lot because we want them to come up with policy, legislation and programmes for reducing and eliminating instances of child abuse, sexually and otherwise,” Thomas said.