General — 11 January 2005 — by Stephanie Lindo

On Monday, another woman was raped when a co-worker held a gun to her head and forcibly had sexual intercourse with her.

Girls are not the only ones that are being sexually molested – this is a new realization that our society must come to terms with. In late September, 2004, a young boy, 14, was found in a schoolyard, almost unconscious. He had been molested, beaten and left for dead.

Now that the society is more aware of how much children and women are being preyed upon, the question that needs to be answered is what our society, collectively, could do to avoid or correct this crisis.

To answer that question, the newspaper asked a wide cross-section of the public to weigh in on the issue and suggest some corrective or preventative measure(s) that could be taken.

The prevailing sentiment of the Belizeans we spoke with was that convicted sex offenders ? child molesters or rapists ? should be castrated. Others said that flogging was enough, while some said that they should be hanged immediately.

Hanging, however, seems to be a fanciful punishment, since Belizeans who are sentenced to hang take their appeals to the Privy Council, where they are sentenced to life imprisonment, and not hanging. And in any case, hanging is usually reserved for those convicted for murder, and not sex crimes.

The first person we spoke with was a secretary, 23, who said that anyone convicted of a sex crime should be stripped of their clothing and tied down in an ants? nest for an extensive period. She also said that flogging and castration were viable punishments.

A female primary school warden, 44, said that sex offenders should be given the harshest punishment possible, which, in her mind, was flogging. She said that although she is a Christian and believes that we should not view life as ?an eye for an eye,? affair, something has to be done to let would-be sex offenders know that society is serious about punishing them.

One male taxi driver, 46, thought that anyone who is ?sick enough? to molest a child or rape a woman should be castrated.

A female security guard, 53, who is a mother of eight children, said that Belize has to resort to ?drastic measures? and make constitutional changes because the system is ?too soft? on sex offenders. She said that jailing offenders is not enough, and it seems that it is not working because you do have repeat offenders, she added.

?Give them life in prison,? said a female sales clerk, 29, who has a young daughter living in Dangriga, while she works in Belize City.

A male security guard, 35: ?It would be best if convicted sex offenders were castrated.? He said that was one way society could ensure that a sex offender would not hurt somebody else.

A female sanitation worker, 31: ?Put him in the middle of the street and let us women have him ?street justice.? This woman told the newspaper that she has seven children, of which four of them are girls. She also said that one of her daughters had been sexually molested, and that the convicted male, her former boyfriend, was incarcerated, but that he had died while in jail.

She described briefly how hurt she was as a mother to see how much her daughter was affected by that experience. She said that for that reason, women should be allowed to ?deal with them [sex offenders].?

She also told us that she does not allow her current boyfriend to sleep at her house because she is afraid that he might do the same thing as her previous boyfriend.

Male teacher, 35: ?Tie them up and let everybody have a turn at lashing them.? We should have a system put in place so that society could identify those sex offenders who are released from prison, he added. He explained that if society had a way to identify convicted offenders, it might be easier to prevent it from happening again.

Male electrical technician, 37: ?Don?t place them back in society.? He thought that child molesters and rapists should not be kept in the same prison population with the other criminals; in fact, they should be quarantined, he said.

Female Standard IV teacher, 33: ?Hang them!? And if we cannot hang them then castrate them, she told us. She suggested that we should establish a psychiatric clinic where sex offenders could get help. She made the point that anyone who did something as atrocious as raping a woman or worse, molesting a child, needs psychiatric help.

On a final note, she stressed that perhaps hanging was still the best option. ?Just one of them, that is all we need to do, hang one of them as an example,? she said.

A female teacher, 21, thought that convicted offenders deserved life imprisonment. Her co-worker, 36, thought that if that were the case, then the offender should be locked down in such a way that they could not even see the sun. They should be kept indoors, the 36-year-old said.

She commented that physical torture was not enough for those who rape children; they have to be psychologically tortured, so that they could think everyday about what they did.

A male teacher, 40: If they are not castrated, then they should be condemned to life imprisonment with hard labour. ?I am a stepfather, and with all these cases of child molestation, I worry that people might wonder whether I am molesting my stepdaughters,? he said. He explained that incidents that show stepfathers in a negative light make it difficult for those stepfathers who are trying and are sincere in their efforts and love.

Male manager, 48: ?Once a man is found guilty of molesting a child, especially a child as young as 5, then their penis should be cut off.?

Female primary school principal, 46: ?Castrate them,? she said, and then put them in jail.

Male courier, 70: Any male that is found guilty of molesting a child should be castrated. ?We have to stop talking and start taking action,? he told us, saying that was the only way we could prevent our children from being molested.

And while most males said that castration and hanging were the most reasonable and sound punishments for convicted child molesters, there was one male that said that it was not necessary. As he sat playing dominoes with some other males, he commented that hanging was ?too harsh? for sex offenders. This male thought that parents should be more vigilant at home, and perhaps children would not be molested.

This 30-plus father of two sons insisted that once his children were taught what constitutes sexual abuse, then his sons would be safe.

Another male, who was also playing dominoes, this one in his early 20s, said that child molesters and rapists should not have the privilege of seeing the light of day. They should be placed in a dark maximum-security prison, he noted.

A 30-plus male, who was a part of the domino game, thought that sex offenders should be flogged.

?Anticipation of death is worse than death,? commented a 33-year-old male working in the printing industry. He suggested that a convicted child molester should be released in the Mountain Pine Ridge area, and given a 5-hour head start, before marksmen are allowed to take their best shot.

Full time father, 36: ?I think they should be castrated.?

Male taxi driver 45: ?If they used their penis to molest a child, then cut it off; if they used their finger, then cut that off.?

Male taxi driver, 26: ?Give child molesters the maximum sentence that is allowed, and cut off their penis.?

Female street vendor: ? I don?t even know what I would do with them. Maybe we should hang them.?

Male, 28: ?They just do not deserve to live.?

Male, retired teacher, 71: ?The law must be enforced. They could also be flogged, but not with the tamarind whip; they should be flogged with the ?cat-o-nine? whip.?

Male, retired technician, 56: ?If it is their first offence, then they should be flogged. If it is their second offence, then they should be flogged again and then sentenced to life in prison. And as far as punishing sex offenders who have molested little children, like the case of the 5-year-old girl, then the man?s penis should be cut off.?

Male, 62: ?A special prison should be built for them.?

Female, pastry chef, 23: ?Maybe if we starve convicted molesters to death, that would be a good example for the others on the street, who think it is ?okay? to do that to children.?

Female, 24, psychology major: ?They deserve worse than being put in prison, but they also need to be committed to a mental institution.?

Male university student, 20: ?They should be tortured to death; tie them to a tree and put an ants? nest around them.?

While Belizeans feel that convicted sex offenders should be flogged, recall that in 2000, prisoners were flogged, but the practice was discontinued when the portfolio was taken from the then Minister of Prisons.

The following are taken from 2001 reports of punishments for sexual offenders.

Kenya: A 50-year-old primary school teacher was yesterday sentenced to 28 years in prison for defiling seven of his underage pupils. Fransisco Ngumi Wachira was also ordered to receive eight strokes of the cane and to serve hard labour.

Singapore: A TRANS-ISLAND bus driver molested a 15-year-old girl who was the lone passenger in his bus after he lied that it would take her to Chinatown. In sentencing him to 30 months in jail and four strokes of the cane, District Judge Audrey Lim took into account the fact that he had touched the girl three times and that the molestation continued for a very long time.

Another Singapore man raped his mildly retarded daughter 43 times over a period of about two years. He started sexually abusing the girl when she was 13 and kept doing it despite her pleas for him to stop, and despite being caught in the act by his wife, the girl?s stepmother.

At times, the girl would sleep under the bed to avoid the sexual assaults, but it did not work. Yesterday, her 40-year-old father, who is a delivery assistant, was sentenced to a total of 24 years in jail and 24 strokes of the cane.

United Arab Emirates: A man who attacked and raped a woman was sentenced by the Sharia Court to two years in prison and 80 lashes. He had a record of similar crimes and previously was sentenced to 10 years in prison for rape, but was released with special permission a few months later,? the official said.

Malaysia: It is a maximum of 20 years in jail and 10 strokes of the rotan each for two Filipino construction workers who mercilessly gang-raped a 22-year-old college student at a housing estate last week while intending to commit burglary

Iran: Fourteen male youths were flogged in northern Tehran for harassing women and public drunkenness, a punishable offence in Iran, which implements strict Islamic Sharia law. Witnesses said the youths beaten were aged between 18-25, and received 20-70 lashes, with their hands roped to a police car.

In a separate incident, twelve men were flogged in public in Iran?s capital for a range of offences including drunkenness, selling ?sinful? CDs and harassing women, a newspaper reported.

The daily Jomhuri-e-Eslami said the ?thugs? were whipped in southeastern Tehran, each receiving 75-80 lashes for their offences, which also included arranging illicit sexual liaisons. The whippings took place in three large squares in the city.

Fiji: A 28-year-old Ba man will spend the next five years behind bars after he was convicted for sexually molesting his 7-year-old daughter. Magistrate Mohammed Shaifullah Khan also ordered that the 28-year-old man receive six strokes of cane for his inhumane act.

Nigeria: A Sharia court in Dutse, Jigawa state ordered that a 45-year old man, Yunusa Yargaba, be given 100 strokes of the cane for illegal entry into a blind couple?s matrimonial home and attempted rape. The presiding judge, Alhaji Ibrahim Gwaram cited several verses of the Holy Quran and Hadithsthe of the holy prophet and ordered that Yaragaba be given 100 strokes of the cane in the public.

Brunei: The sentence against a convicted ?half rapist?, Mohamad bin Serudin, was increased to eight years in jail and he will receive 12 strokes of the rattan after the Public Prosecutor made an appeal against his sentence, even though the man only partially completed the offence.

Information on child molestation:

About 95% of victims know their perpetrators.

Nearly 50% of all rape victims are under the age of 18.

U.S. Department of Justice reports that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys are molested before the age of 18.

FBI studies have shown that pornography is very influential in the actions of sex offenders and serial murders. Statistics show that 90% of the predators who molest children have been involved with pornography. They use pornography and child pornography to aid them in their molestations.

The average paedophile molests 30-60 children BEFORE he is arrested the first time, and an average of 360-380 children in his/her lifetime.

Long-term effects of child abuse include fear, anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, inappropriate sexual behaviour, poor self-esteem, and tendency toward substance abuse and difficulty with close relationships.

Sexual Assault – Any non-consensual sexual act or touching, by a man or a woman, upon a man or a woman, whether a stranger or someone known to the victim. A sexual act is non-consensual if it is by physical force, manipulation, coercion, threats or intimidation. While sexual assault may refer to actual or attempted oral sex, attempted anal or vaginal penetration, or penetration by an object is also included, as well as unwanted sexual touching.

Rape – Sexual penetration (anal or vaginal), however slight, without consent. A sexual act is non-consensual if it is by physical force, manipulation, coercion, threats or intimidation. Individuals who engage in sexual penetration of persons who are underage, are physically incapacitated by the use of alcohol or drugs, or are mentally incapacitated, unconscious, or otherwise physically unable to communicate consent are guilty of rape. Rape may be committed by a man or a woman upon a man or a woman, and may be by a stranger or someone known to the victim.

Castrate ? to remove the testicles of a male; geld or emasculate; to remove the ovaries of a female, spay.

The newspaper could not get any numbers on child molestation in Belize by press time.

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