The kids aren’t alright

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If the report of the sequestration and rape of the 10-year-old child that made the headlines this week shocks you, it’s because you haven’t been paying attention. Such heinous crimes have been on the rise recently, just as much as other shocking crimes. And many sociopaths have been getting away with it due mainly to the general incompetence, amateurism and the misuse of the police force.

This week alone, a court of law let a suspected child rapist out on bail. The police labelled the victim as “uncooperative” as “she refused to participate in any reconstitution of the crime”. How surprising for a nine-year-old child! So the monster walks and, come the trial, the “uncooperative” victim will probably not see justice. There were also several recent stories about child rape where the rapist was either acquitted for lack of proof or handed down a ridiculously lenient sentence such as a few hours of community service – an insult to the victims, their families and society in general. If you tack one story onto the other, you come face to face with a Mauritius disinclined and unable to punish sexual assault on children. And the biggest manifestation of that is the fact that up until now, and five ministers of family welfare later under the same prime minister, there is still no children’s bill with adequate laws to better protect children.

“Take the absolute chaos created by the Metro Express in Rose Hill and Beau Bassin, add it to the list of recent stories involving our politicians and you begin to understand why we are in such a mess.”

What is even more shocking is that our police force is spread very thin due to additional pressures from a government that has no respect for priorities. A police force whose members have been given as top priority the job of watching over the well-being of politicians and guarding the Metro Express site, for example, cannot be expected to be efficient enough to be ruthless against crime. So, it is no wonder that it took more than 24 hours to find a child abducted by a neighbour and hidden in his place next door! Does our police force get its inspiration from our political class?

Take the absolute chaos created by the Metro Express in Rose Hill and Beau Bassin, add it to the list of recent stories involving our politicians and you begin to understand why we are in such a mess. Citizens have been going through hell for quite a while now with roads closed down to traffic, leaving access to some areas literally possible only through flying, magic or both, and it is only now that Minister of Local Government Anwar Husnoo is beginning to “promise to look into the matter”. It takes very little time for such amateurism to permeate the whole system. The result is that instead of well-planned actions that leave no room for amateurism, error or miscarriage of justice, what we get are a series of knee-jerk reactions in every sphere of our public life.

None of this is inevitable. If our leaders were pro-active, competent and conscientious, that message would have reached all the service providers in our society. And instead of blocked roads due to incompetence and amateurism, the can of the street hawkers being kicked down the road from one year to another, offenders who have preyed on vulnerable children allowed into the community without appropriate retribution and rehabilitation… we would have a system that works for and protects everyone.

The amateurism in our police force is symptomatic of a generalised incompetence in the whole country. Deal with the disease and the symptoms will sort themselves out. Otherwise, please stop acting shocked when this amateurism results in heinous crimes or incongruous situations. It is part and parcel of what you have learnt – from bitter and repeated experience – to accept.

For more views and in-depth analysis of current issues, Weekly magazine (Price: Rs 25) or subscribe to Weekly for Rs110 a month. (Free delivery to your doorstep). Email us on: [email protected]


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