Guest Editorial:No silver lining in the dark cloud of child sex abuse
Sometime later this month the England footballer Adam Johnson will be sent to jail for between five and ten years.
A judge has already told Johnson a substantial custodial sentence was "an almost inevitable outcome" when he is sentenced at the end of this month.
The 28-year-old was found guilty of sexual activity with a 15-year-old schoolgirl. He continues to deny sexual activity with the child. But then he had denied all four charges against him until late into the process when he admitted to one count of grooming and one count of kissing the girl.
The child was a fan of Johnson's football club, Sunderland, and she idolized him, in very much the same way most teenagers idolize sporting or other stars. She regularly waited outside the club's stadium for a picture with her hero.
At 15, the child was vulnerable and impressionable and the professional footballer exploited his position as a hero to take advantage of this girl.
The sex scandal that broke here recently involving men of power who are alleged to have exploited a 15-year-old child has an eerie and frightening similarity to the case of the England footballer. We are not here to cast judgement as to the men's guilt or innocence for it is not our place to judge. That is better left for a court of law. And in any event, an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
However, we cannot help but care about the plight of this schoolgirl, who, like the British child, is impressionable and vulnerable and can be exploited by men of power – no, monsters, for this is what anyone who would groom or engage a child in any form of sexual activity really is.
The nightmare that this child must be going through is beyond compare.
Following the Johnson verdict, the British schoolgirl said she felt "used and let down" by her former idol.
"The last 12 months have been horrendous and there have been times when I've wanted to hide away from the world. There have been times I haven't felt able to face people," she said.
"There have been times when I've tried not to show people how upset I am, but sometimes it hasn't been possible and I'd just cry. I've felt so broken.
"I've been in some very dark places over that time . . ."
We imagine that the 15-year-old Dominica girl must be feeling the same way; must be stuck in a place so dark that she cannot make sense of anything. And, not matter what we might think of her, she is still a child and ought to be treated as such.
The worrying thing is, she is not the only child being taken advantage of by people whom they look up to. It is troubling that a country that is as intolerant of gays as Dominica is, could for so long, over so many decades, tolerate the sexual exploitation of our children. The mothers who sell their daughters' bodies on the excuse that this is the only way to feed them; the uncles and close relatives who desecrate the bodies of the girls – and boys – left in their care; the boyfriends who must have the daughter as well as the mother, despite the fact that the girl is a juvenile; the fathers – can we even call them that? – who engage shamelessly in incest with their daughters, some of whom even impregnated by the man who ought to be protecting them. Yes, we see it all and we allow it to continue for our own selfish reasons.
It is now time to put an end to the wanton rape of our daughters, our children, the flowers of our country.
That the police had to wait until the prime minister returned to the country to act – at least this is the way it seemed – is disappointing at the very least. That they acted "to quell public anxiety" is downright shameful.
Our children deserve better and to begin the process of demonstrating that we care, proper child protection laws must be enacted and enforced to shield them from danger and to severely punish perpetrators.
Such laws must include provisions to force anyone, including parents, who knows or reasonably suspects that a child is being molested, or abused, to report it to the police or face the possibility of lengthy jail sentences; the establishment of an effective child protection agency with the power to remove children from dangerous environments, and a sexual offenders registry in which the names of people found guilty of sex offenses will be published for all to see.
We compliment the victim's family for pursuing charges against the alleged perpetrators. In the Dominica that we know, most parents would accept bribes to let the case go away. The problems is, the child's wounds never do go away and she – or he - is left scarred for life.
Our inaction and complicity has resulted in many a child being thrust into this dark and unforgiving place. In a strange way, this 15-year-old might turn out to be the savior of so many girls, so many children. She might be the one to finally take us out of the darkness and into the light
- By Johnson JohnRose