Forum on sex offender registry to be held
A forum to discuss the establishment of a sex offenders register is to be held tomorrow.
The open mike night at the Astwood Arms pub on Hamilton’s Front Street will be hosted by Robyn Swan, a One Bermuda Alliance senator, and Dany Pen, a member of the Women’s Action Group.
Ms Swan said she had encountered sex offenders behind bars “too many times” through her eight years as a prison officer and that treatment programmes in prison had to be “much more extensive”.
She added: “I used to see people reoffending. It seems we have a slap-on-the-wrist policy, especially towards paedophiles.
“I’m not a psychiatrist, but I do think the general public needs more education — it’s a disorder — and I include myself as needing to be more educated.”
Ms Swan said she supported the idea of a public register.
She added: “I don’t know why we protect the offenders. The popular view is that if we expose them, then we expose the victims, but why should victims have to live in silence?”
In November 2014, both political parties backed the establishment of a House of Assembly Joint Select Committee to examine the creation of a registry.
The move was sparked by a motion brought to the House by Zane DeSilva, a Progressive Labour Party MP.
The committee’s report was tabled in Parliament last month and Craig Cannonier, one of the Opposition MPs who contributed, will present some of its findings, along with his proposals, at next week’s forum.
Ms Swan said she did not think a register would result in sex offenders being attacked.
She said: “Some prominent ones are already exposed and identified in the community. I don’t know how day to day life goes for them, but it does not seem they are being attacked in the streets.
“But we do need to protect our children and ourselves, and we have a right to be able to know.”
Ms Swan said the open mike night, scheduled to run from 6pm to 8pm, had attracted “a lot of interest”, including from the charity Scars, which offers training on child sex abuse awareness.
Ms Swan thanked Suzann Roberts Holshouser, a former OBA MP, for “all the work she has done in her several years pioneering this”.
She added: “I have to give her due respect for being such a strong voice in our community.”
Ms Swan said that attitudes to sex abuse were changing.
She added: “More people are seeing that they can get access to assistance. More victims are coming out.”
Ms Swan praised Andrew and David Bascome, both former footballers and coaches, who revealed two years ago that they were sexually abused as young players.
She said: “They’re heroes. They’re very brave for doing that. It encourages other people to come forward and know that they will receive support.”