Tina Alexander at a child abuse march at the Botanic Gardens, Roseau
Tina Alexander at a child abuse march at the Botanic Gardens, Roseau

Child abuse. There's no misconduct so vexing, so alarming, so abhorrent, so rampant in Dominica.

"It is time to stop hiding child abuse," shouted marchers in July, in the streets of Roseau, led by Child Rights activist Tina Alexander.

"Indeed child abuse has been a problem for decades in the past and in recent times," said Catherine Daniel, the minister for family and gender affairs.

The recorded figures, especially the ages of the victims of child abuse, are disturbing.

"In 2015, we had a total of 189 cases reported of child abuse and out of that 189, 128 of these were sexual related matters. Seventy-three cases out of this 189, were children within the ages of 0 to 10," said Jemma Azille, Coordinator of the Child Abuse Prevention Unit.

Child sexual abuse. No act is more monstrous, more detestable, more cold-hearted, more revolting.

"(The figures) show that our children as young as babies are being abused," said Azille.

In 2016, the situation became unbearable and Dominicans, belatedly, decided that something had to be done about it. A group of about 14 institutions, the NGO Coalition for the Protection of Children and Youth in Dominica, stepped in and decided that the monster that is child abuse had to be confronted head on and defeated with weapons of education, awareness and the law.

"We exist because we are alarmed" by the violation "of the very young including infants and toddlers by family members and unfortunately by practitioners and service providers whom we depend on to protect our children," said Thomas Holmes, the former chairman of the NGO Coalition.

In 2016, the issue of child abuse received heightened national attention when three prominent Dominican men were arrested and charged over allegations of serious inappropriate behavior with a school girl. Tina Alexander aided the police investigation into the accusations.

The allegations and arrests prompted the dismissal of a deputy leader of a political party and the resignation of a minister of government. A by-election was held after the parliamentary representative resigned. Two of the accused men are now asking the High Court to allow judicial review of their cases.

Additionally, persistent pressure from the NGO Coalition and the general public forced government, near the end of 2016, to amend the 1998 Sexual Offences Act adding much stiffer penalties for a wide range of sexual offences.

Because of her persistent crusading for the cause of victims of child abuse, Tina Alexander has contributed significantly to the never-ending battle against child abuse. By no stretch of the imagination is the fight against child abuse over but , undoubtedly, Alexander and her team at the NGO Coalition has helped bring the problem into sharper focus.

For these reasons, The Sun has selected Tina Alexander as its 2016 Person of the Year.