Jamaica: Rapists on the loose?

Jamaica Observer:-It was a Tuesday night like any other for the young woman in her early 20s. It was 9:30 and she had just ended her shift and was heading home. She walked across the street from the complex and waited for a cab.

One came after about 10 minutes, she recalled.

The driver of the car with private registration plates tooted the horn and shouted, “Mall?” indicating that his route would terminate at Portmore Mall.

She got in, told him where she was getting off, and paid her $100 fare.

According to the police report, when the young woman got to her stop, not far from where she boarded, and was about to alight the vehicle, the driver engaged the doors’ autolock and powered up all the windows. He then climbed into the back of the car beside her with a knife and a piece of rope.

He threatened her, bound her hands, and blindfolded her.

When he released her an hour and a half later, she found herself in a bushy, deserted plot next to a well-known retailer.

The ordeal is a source of trauma for the young woman. She declined commenting on it directly, but told the Jamaica Observer through her mother that she is so traumatised she has since quit her job and has sought counselling.

“Just talking about it to you now is bringing me to tears,” said the mother, whose name is also being withheld to protect the family’s identity.

“I’m really hurt, and I’m blaming myself. I tell myself that if I was home it wouldn’t have happened, because when I’m here and she’s working the late shift I call her every few minutes and go outside to wait for her,” she said.

The Greater Portmore Police reported yesterday that they get reports of incidents of rape in the municipality “on a daily basis” and that “a few” involve men posing as cab drivers. The station contact said, however, that it has perpetrators in custody.

While the Jamaica Observer was unable, up to press time last night, to get details of the incidents, we did secure anecdotal data that tells at least part of the story.

For example, two weeks before the incident involving the woman in her 20s, a supermarket clerk reportedly had a similar experience.

And residents of West Cumberland report that two young women, one of them a student, ran into their community within three weeks of each other alleging that they had just been raped by a taximan. In both those cases, the young women said they were ordered out to of the vehicles on Municipal Boulevard, which is the western border for West Cumberland, and told to run. They ended up on 22nd Avenue where residents assisted by calling and/or transporting them to the nearest police station.

In yet another case, a 17-year-old young woman said she was victimised while on her way home.

And one young woman narrowly missed her ‘date’ because she had several bags of groceries.

In spite of her anguish, the mother of the young woman in her 20s said she needed to encourage victims of rape and their families.

“Persons often blame ladies saying that we cause this on ourselves, but nothing is further from the truth. I want to give a message to the victims who are suffering: Do not blame yourselves. Without the proper counselling people sometimes end up selling their bodies or turn to drugs, but don’t blame yourself. Get counselling.

“I also want to tell the lawyers who are trying to defend these criminals to stop it! Stop taking money and making it seem like these acts are right. Taking young girls’ innocence and violating them like this is not right.”

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