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May 15, 2009

Fathers protest against exploitation and abuse of children

Story PictureSince the acquittal last week of a pastor who was on trial for raping a seven year old child, there has been public outrage at what some members of the public see as a weak justice system. Today a small group of those voices took to the streets and picketed in the vicinity of the Supreme Court. But although the marchers were small in number, they were adamant in their conviction that stiffer penalties should be meted out to child molesters. Marion Ali reports.

Marion Ali, Reporting
The turnout was not massive enough to stop traffic, but most of the participants who braved the morning sun bearing placards were men who denounced the rape of children. While the placards were self-explanatory, many of the protestors were vocal, like Bert Ramos, of Fathers Against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children. He said he is encouraged by public support and appeals to the wider community to make an impression on Government.

Bert Ramos, Founder, FASEAC
“There are so many people who said that they might can’t be walking in the demonstration along with us but they are calling, they are begging to bring the list to them or they want somewhere where they can meet us where they can sign the petition. We expect to put this petition countrywide. We want people from all over the country to sign on this petition. We’ll give you a date when we’re coming to your district, when we’ll be in your area and ask you to come out and sign so that the government can know and this whole nation can know that it is for us, not for me, it is for all of us in this country.”

Some prominent citizens took part in the march.

Bernard Adolphus, Protestor
“The law is too lenient at this time, even though it is embedded in the structure. It is embedded in the law that life imprisonment can be given to rapists, so why only give them twelve years and five years, etcetera. At least the minimum of twenty-five years should be used. How you wah interfere with a five years, six months and in some cases it was and in one case it was an eighteen month child, and you get away, that’s bull! That’s bull! We have to stand up and do what is expected. And those who commit this crime ought to prepare fi tek the punishment.”

Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Frmr Special Envoy for Women and Children
“As an attorney and also as a concerned citizen, a mother, it is important to come out and support the fathers. I am happy to see the amount of men out here today but I think that it’s a continuing process where we have to try to reform and strengthen the judicial system but at the same time show more advocacy in terms of citizens standing up to protect our children.”

There was even a father who felt it necessary to foot the Battlefield Park circuit bearing his young child. For him, it was important to play his role and take part in the event because he too has young daughters.

“It’s a part of securing a safer future for my child. I’m a father of seven children and I feel any parents that have the love their children in their heart and cares about the future of their children should feel obligated to be out here. We will not tolerate it and we are not in the position to tolerate it. And we’re taking a stand to show them that it’s not going to be tolerated any more.”

Delfina Mitchell who runs Liberty Childrens’ Home knows all too well what it is like dealing with children who have been sexually violated.

Delfina Mitchell, Director, Liberty Childrens’ Home
“We have seven year-olds coming with venereal diseases. They have problems, they pee the bed because of the damage that they suffer after being raped by these grown men. Things need to be done to change it. A child word doesn’t mean anything against an adult. That needs to be changed.”

Ramos is not only asking for a stronger judicial system but also the evidence gathering process.

Bert Ramos
“A man would rape a child, go to court and because cannot present a strong case to the jurors, man walk off. I tired ah dehn nonsense deh. We want di correct things in place. We want the D.N.A. We want the policeman dem fi have the correct instruments fi run dehn show di way dehn supposed to run it. The prosecutors, we need more prosecutors, we need strong prosecutors eena di system. We noh satisfied wid going to court, losing our case.”

Attorney and former Special Envoy for Women and Childrens’ Issues, Dolores Balderamos Garcia, offered her view on what can be done to improve the system.

Dolores Balderamos-Garcia
“One of the things that we can perhaps recommend to the Chief Justice is that perhaps it is time and overtime to have what is called a ‘friend of the court’ in the case because you have the prosecution and then you don’t have another attorney; you only have the Crown Counsel. Now the defence can bring the most high-powered lawyers, etcetera but there is a Latin that is used, it’s called an Amicus Curiae and the Amicus Curiae is a friend of the court, another attorney, or a concerned social worker who is trained. And a trained person can really give an input in terms of what is happening for the protection of the child. It’s like an ombudsman for children within a court system and within a case.”

Having walked the walk, the protestors expressed hope that someday soon the laws will prove effective enough to put more sex predators behind bars. Reporting for News Five, Marion Ali.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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