ROSEAU, Dominica, Mar 5, CMC – An online petition has been launched here calling for an emergency sitting of Parliament to discuss the issue of sexual abuse of children in Dominica.
The petition comes after one prominent businessman has been slapped with six charges arising out of allegations of “serious inappropriate behaviour” that has also resulted in the resignation of a senior government minister.
Police said they are also questioning another person in connection with their investigations into the allegations of unlawful and inappropriate conduct by three adult males on a 15-year-old girl.
According to the petition “our leaders must take action at the highest level of governance and allow the populace to listen in on their proposals to protect our children”.
The petition being piloted by the group ‘We are Dominica’ is calling on the government to take action on a number of areas including raising the age of consent to 18 years, establishing a family court and providing additional resources for the Ministry of Social Services to educate the public, investigate allegations of abuse, and counsel victims of assault”.
The petition also calls on the government to amend the 998 Sexual Offences Act to increase penalties for convicted paedophiles and establish a national sex offender registry as well as set restrictions on how convicted offenders can interact with children in professional capacities.
“Child sexual abuse in Dominica has long been declared a national crisis. Yet, unlike national disasters or sudden increases in crime, this stain on our society has been allowed to spread rapidly, threatening the safety of all children in Dominica.
“In spite of significant activism to encourage the government of Dominica to amend existing legislation and invest additional resources to help combat the threat to our children, there has not been any concrete change in policy to address this national emergency,” the petition noted.