Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) has spoken out against what he described as a heightened worrying trend as it relates to aggressive forms of abuse perpetrated against women.
Dr Wheatley was at the time responding to the question of whether or not the [British] Virgin Islands (VI) is prepared to touch on sexual assault within the territory and the possibility of establishing a Sexual Offender Registry.
The Premier was part of a panel discussion titled 'Let's Chew on the Issue' and live-streamed on the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Facebook page on April 6, 2023.
“I’m noticing a worrying trend where there is like a lot of disrespect to women, like a woman’s walking by, you grab the woman on her behind and all of these type of things that I’m seeing become a bigger trend. People are becoming more aggressive, even in a public setting with women and I think that we have to come together as a society and say ‘no tolerance’ for that,” Dr Wheatley noted.
He also turned his attention to various other forms of abuse against women, which he noted seem to have been “normalised” by members of society and which are becoming worrying issues that need to be addressed.
“We’ve seen a very worrying trend in things like sexual assault, not just sexual assault but domestic violence. The Deputy Premier and I, we sit in the National Security Council and we get regular reports from the Police Commissioner- crime reports, and that is something that we both raised concern on in National Security Council and we’ve asked for strategy. We’ve demanded that the Police Commissioner put a strategy in place to deal with issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, etcetera, and of course to work collaboratively with ourselves and the elected government to address that worrying trend,” Dr Wheatley added.
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the
Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) has spoken out against what he
described as a heightened worrying trend as it relates to aggressive
forms of abuse perpetrated against women.
Society-wide effort needed
He further stated that they are fully committed to addressing the challenges and have even brought in the Ministry of Health and Social Development to give a particular presentation.
Dr Wheatley stressed; however, that it has to be a society-wide effort.
“It has to have our churches, it has to have our schools. A lot of the young people who are being abused, they come to school and so it takes like a teacher to recognise the signs, to see that something is wrong. And then that teacher is obligated to report to Social Development, Social Development is obligated to report to the Police,” he continued.
According to the Premier, a very broad conversation also needs to be had about individual values, since he noted in some cases a blind eye is turned on men with underage females and this is something that has become normalised and needs to be called out.
“It’s something that we need to educate, in particular, our young men but also our young women about,” Dr Wheatley said.