Don't let DSP Milton's be the lone voice crying in Trelawny's sex-crime wilderness
Deputy Superintendent of Police Winston Milton

If it were possible, the voices of great sons of Trelawny, like Messrs Hugh Shearer, Rex Nettleford, Albert Huie, and H G DeLisser would bemoan from the grave the increasing rape and incest being inflicted on children from that north-western parish.

At the start of a new school year it's the last news anyone would want to hear coming out of any parish — that minors are being subjected in greater numbers to sexual crimes perpetuated by, of all persons, predatory fathers, stepfathers, other relatives, and guardians.

The alarm was sounded by Deputy Superintendent of Police Winston Milton, the commanding officer for Trelawny, not once, but twice in as many months, suggesting that he may not have been heard the first time.

In July this year, DSP Milton took the matter to a mayor's forum at Water Square in Falmouth, the parish capital, telling the town's leaders of the growing paedophilia crisis, which he contrasted with a fall in the murder rate since the start of the year.

He reported that, despite a more than 100 per cent reduction in murders in the parish, other major crimes, notably rape and incest, mostly involving little girls, were on the rise, giving cause for concern.

"In relation to the incidence of rape, we are particularly concerned because, in most cases, the victims of this particular category of crime are minors and, in a lot of the instances, their perpetrators are persons who are known to them…

"We have been working assiduously with our stakeholders to educate our people in relation to this. We can be very trusting but sometimes we have to take precaution to ensure that our children are not victims," DSP Milton declared then.

With children being the complainants in 36 of 46 sex offence cases heard by the Trelawny Circuit Court last term, he returned to the subject this month, noting that paedophilia was a historical problem in the area.

While he did not quote police figures, DSP Milton said the constabulary had been seeing more of this occurrence, which is offset by an even more worrying factor of complicit relatives who would prefer that the victimised children keep silent.

"The worrying concern for us in relation to this is that sometimes we see these victims being victims twice; meaning, they are victims of a sexual crime and there is also pressure by family members not to pursue the matter in court, and they are seen as pariahs when they do," the cop said.

We in this space are encouraged by efforts by external stakeholders — like the Church, lay magistrates, and others — to reach some of the likely victims and perpetrators. Kudos also to Chief Justice Bryan Sykes who, on the Trelawny Circuit, blasted the offenders while slapping them with heavy sentences.

It is also commendable that the Government last year opened child-friendly space for interviewing and assisting child victims, operated by the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse in Trelawny. But more needs to be done.

Clearly, a sustained public education programme must accompany these efforts. May we suggest that the considerable talents of prominent sons and daughters of Trelawny be called upon to assist.

All Jamaicans need to join the effort because child-sex crime is not a problem for Trelawny alone.

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