Rape is forced sexual intercourse which includes psychological coercion as well as physical force. While there are homosexual and male victims, most victims are female who have been forcibly penetrated by an individual or group of men. There is another term separate from rape, sexual assault, by which a victim may or may not be forced to have sexual intercourse with the offender but it mostly covers verbal threats.
The recent report on the increase in sexual offences in St Lucia needs to be evaluated. An increase of 11 cases not only signals the fact that sexual violations are being under-reported in St.Lucia because many victims are still afraid to file reports due to the fear of being stigmatized, or even being held responsible for the sexual violation. Violence against women is to be understood to encompass, but not be limited to, the following: Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation.
Human and Gender Rights advocate, Felicia Browne, is adamant that the time has come for women to take the lead and ensure that rape, in particular gang-rape, carries similar penalties to offences like murder. Violence against women has too often been seen as a minor offence in which the victim is usually blamed as much if not more than the perpetrator. Browne adds that though she agrees that stricter laws should be implemented, she is adamant that additional laws on their own will not provide victims with the protection that is needed.
Browne adds that “raping a woman and in some cases a male, is a life sentence. The victim has to live with those psychological and physical traumas for the rest of her/his life. I believe that it is time that women and girls take the lead and demand that stricter penalties be implemented but also psychiatric evaluations for perpetrators who may suffer with sexual aggression and imbalances.” Some perpetrators are sexual predators and should be treated for their illnesses; while others without mental disorders should serve longer imprisonment terms- including a life sentence”.
Additionally, Browne maintains that effective legislations which includes psychiatric evaluation and treatment for sexual offences have had significant outcomes for public safety. Although treatment does not eliminate sexual crime, research supports the view that treatment can decrease sex offenses and protect potential victims. In the minority of sex offenders who are mentally ill, adequate treatment of the underlying mental illness may in
some cases be sufficient to reduce the risk of further sex offending. However, in other cases the patient’s abnormal sexual fantasy life may be independent of psychosis and require additional treatment. There has been a marked growth in recent years in cognitive–behavioural treatment of sex offenders. This therapy aims to assist the offender take responsibility for the behaviour leading to the offence, and develop cognitive and behavioural controls to enable him to avoid or escape the high-risk situations that could lead to reoffending. Other cognitive–behavioural techniques such as olfactory aversion and covert sensitisation have been demonstrated to be effective in reducing deviant arousal. None of them provides a cure, however, and offenders must continually practise the skills they have learned. Many sex offenders have abnormal personality traits or personality disorders, and some may have a diagnosis of paraphilia; others may have a learning disability, or biological factors that contribute to their offending.
Article by Felicia Browne