THE police last week reported a double-digit decrease in the number of rape cases in 2010, a 10 per cent decline over last year's total. There was a total of 668 cases reported islandwide, compared to 695 in 2009, figures the police listed as measuring a success in the fight against crime.
But the figures tell a story that rape is still a challenge, especially in areas where the total reported cases pass the 50 mark. In the St Catherine South Division, for example, there were 59 reported rape cased in 2010; 71 in St James; 62 in Westmoreland and 63 in Clarendon. These areas had 45, 79, 58 and 77 cases respectively in 2009.
Of note, reported rapes in Trelawny were reduced from 26 in 2009 to 11 in 2010; 41 to 29 in Manchester; and 75 to 43 in St Catherine North. But worrying, are the increases -- 13-20 in West Kingston; 26-37 in St Andrew North; 33-41 in St Andrew South; 45-59 in St Catherine South and 35-42 in St Ann.
The percentage clear up rate was 36 per cent in the metro area and 44 per cent in the rural areas for 2010.
In all, from a total 668 rape reports, 272 or 41 per cent were cleared up islandwide.
For carnal abuse, there were 246 reported cases in the metro area in 2010 compared to 221 in 2009; and in the rural areas a steep decline, from 357 in 2009 to 190 in 2010. A total 578 carnal abuses cases were reported islandwide in 2009 and 320 in 2010.
The stories were many in 2010, with several convictions reported -- including in November when popular dancehall deejay 'Zebra' was sentenced to 30 years at hard labour in the St Catherine Circuit Court on carnal abuse and buggery charges.
The crown led evidence that the entertainer, who is from Spanish Town, sexually assaulted the teenage daughter of his girlfriend.
Zebra, who was previously found guilty of rape, was freed in 2008 on that charge.
And in June, a Hanover man who was found guilty on two charges of rape and illegal possession of a firearm was sentenced to a total of 52 years in prison following his trial in the Western Regional Gun Court.
Oniel Murray, a 31-year-old security guard who posed as a taxi driver to lure his victims, was found guilty for raping a 12-year-old girl and a 22-year-old woman on separate occasions.
"We want to reach a day when we won't have many women coming to the shelters, when that act of rape and violence and domestic abuse and so on is non-existent," president of WOMAN Inc Valerie Moodie said in November during Jamaica's recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
And, said Lezanne Azan, chair of the Advocacy Committee of the Women's Leadership Initiative last June at a Darkness to Light Stewards of Children training workshop aimed at detecting and prevent child sexual abuse: "You grimace when you here that a large percentage of our victims are abused by family members and that most know their abusers. While we worry openly about the dirty, perverted man hiding in a bush, we seldom discuss 'Uncle Delroy', our family members and acquaintances."
The stories are no only local though, just last week Amnesty International reported horrific accounts of rape in Haiti's squalid refugee camps a year after a devastating quake left many struggling to rebuild their shattered lives.
"They are women like Guerline, who two months after losing her husband when their home crumbled to the ground in the devastating quake, had to watch as her teenage daughter was raped in a makeshift tarpaulin camp in Port-au-Prince," the Associated Press reported.
"Four men raped her. She is 13 years old," Guerline told Amnesty International researchers, who compiled the report, published Wednesday, after interviewing more than 50 women and girls in Haiti's post-quake camps.
Amnesty said little is being done to help her and other victims of rape and sexual violence, old woes for Haiti that worsened after the earthquake killed over 230,000 people, injured 300,000 others and flattened large tracts of the capital. The destruction and death meant many women and girls lost the family and community networks that used to shield them from the threats they now face.
The grass-roots Commission of Women Victims for Victims, a women's group run by survivors of sexual violence, registered more than 250 cases of rape in several camps in the five months after the quake, but Amnesty believes that number is just the tip of the iceberg.
Back home, Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the Operations Portfolio Glenmore Hinds, has promised that work will be done to lower the rates of major crimes like rape.
"There is much more work to be done in order to defeat criminal gangs and that remains our major objective for 2011," Hinds said. "Undoubtedly, if the activities of gangs are curtailed, the incidents of crime, will decrease."