THE EDITOR: Paedophilia is regarded in some jurisdictions as one of the crimes with the highest rates of recidivism, although we have no statistical evidence in TT, where by far the majority of cases of child sexual abuse are never reported to the police, and even in the less than 20 per cent of cases where they are reported, there is no possible or follow-up action taken except where they go through the overworked and understaffed Children’s Authority.
Here, we have had a Sex Offenders Register since 2000 kept under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Police, but to date not a single convicted offender has been placed on the register.
Some doubt the usefulness of re-establishing the register, an exercise that is now before Parliament, but in those countries where conviction of a sex offender is followed up by a mandatory programme of rehabilitative restorative justice such as the CoSA (Circles of Support and Accountability) originating in Ontario, Canada, there has been a measured 70 per cent decrease in reoffending after the offenders are released from prison.
So effective has this programme proven that it has been implemented in the provinces across Canada, in the Netherlands, South Africa, Bermuda and in St Lucia, which is way ahead of TT in this regard.
Here, once someone has served their sentence they are free to go back in the community from which they came. There they are often isolated, shunned and labelled, as are their families, which, not surprisingly, often lead to anger, frustration and a desire for vengence on the world and attack and abuse once again on the most vulnerable victims available.
If we want to heal the society, we have to start with healing the paedophiles, who were probably victims of sexual abuse themselves as children. If there is a known and proven programme that achieves this, surely the Government’s totally laudable objectives in re-establishing the Sex Offenders Register should be accompanied by the sorts of steps being implemented in the Children Court for children convicted of crimes?
DIANA MAHABIR-WYATT via e-mail