SEVERAL groups, including the Government and Opposition, have condemned the brutal rape of an eight-year-old and four other females in the community of Irwin in St James on Monday night.
Describing the incident as "intolerable", Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller — who is attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York — "called on the police to leave no stone unturned until those who carried out this kind of appalling violence against five women and girls are brought to justice".
She also encouraged "anyone with information to help the police in their investigations so the full force of the law can be brought swiftly against the heartless criminals who could commit this barbaric act against children and women".
Meanwhile, Opposition Spokesman on National Security and Justice Delroy Chuck expressed shock and dismay at the incident and used the opportunity to call on the Government to fast-track the anti-gang legislation.
"...There is increasing lawlessness within the society and citizens are losing confidence in the system's ability to protect them," Chuck said and called on all Jamaicans to play a role in maintaining law and order in the society.
The University of the West Indies-based Institute for Gender and Development Studies Mona (IGDS) said the incident has highlighted "the need for government, civil society and all Jamaicans to take more serious action to eliminate violence against women and girls".
"Rape is a serious crime and women and girls are the main victims because of the unequal power relations that exist between males and females, and society's tolerance of violence," the IGDS said in a statement and urged the country to use the terrible incident as motivation to renew the commitment to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.
The Bureau of Women's Affairs also condemned the incident, saying it showed an increasing lack of respect for women and a continued violation of women's human rights.
"The nature of the violence against women and children in particular, is disturbing and a cause for great concern and should spur us all to affirmative action," the bureau said.
In the meantime, the Child Development Agency (CDA) said it had deployed officers to Irwin to offer counselling and support the efforts of the police, as well as to inform the families about steps to be taken to ensure the safety of the children.
The CDA said it was also "treating with great urgency" a case in St Ann involving an 11-year-old girl who was repeatedly sexually assaulted by an older relative.