I strongly urge all of our readers to read the following link to a Daily Mail report about British tourist and grandmother Diane Davies, 62, who courageously has gone public to draw attention on how she was raped and physically beaten up in an up-scale section of Barbados last year.
COMMENT: It was one thing for Mrs. Davies, a widow with four children and nine grandchildren, to have endured such a gruesome attack, but her public announcement of her experience was largely made to draw attention to the poor treatment she received from first responders and members of the Royal Barbados Police Force (www.barbadospolice.gov.bb).
As the DAILY MAIL piece demonstrates, it is Mrs. Davies' belief that authorities in Barbados are more concerned with protecting the island's tourist industry than in seeking justice for victims of crime, which is significantly on the rise. Ironically, a rape occurred in the same location where Davies was attacked two days earlier.
Mrs. Davies' message to the some 250,000 Britons who visit Barbados annually (far more than Americans who visit the island) is that if victimized by violent crime, it is unlikely that they will receive compassion, competent police service and supportive treatment. As the article indicates, Davies was even disappointed in the lack of help she received from the British High Commission in Bridgetown.
Although Davies sustained two cracked ribs and a broken collarbone in the daytime attack, she was medically treated. Also, a female physician administered antiviral tablets in the event her rapist was AIDS/HIV-positive. She also received a Hepatitis B injection. Fortunately, her assailant was not AIDS/HIV-positive.
Strangely, a British Consulate staff member told Davies that another British woman in her 20s, was raped at the same spot as Davies two days earlier. She also I discovered there are at least 55 known rapes on the island annually, thirteen in the area where was assaulted. Yet, such details seemed to have been omitted from the current version of the British Foreign Office's description of security issues in Barbados at http://www.fco.gov.uk/barbados. Nevertheless, the Royal Barbados Police Force's (RBPF) website cites 169 incidents of rape, indecent assault and assault with intent to rape in 2010.
The day after Davies was raped and beaten up, she was driven to the police station to make a statement of what happened to her. Unfortunately, the police did not pick her up from her condo until late in the day (1730) and to her surprise, she was questioned for five and a half hours without being offered any food or drink in a temperature of 86°F [30°C]. To make matters worse, the female officer who took her statement appeared to lack not only compassion, but competence.
Questionable of all as it relates to the conduct and professionalism of the police in Barbados was that individuals selected for the "line-up" at the station were physically led by her after the suspect who attacked her was not among them, thus enabling all of them to identify her.
To date, no one has been arrested or been brought to trial in the case of Mrs. Davies' rape and assault, despite the fact that numerous rapes occurred where Davies was attacked. Barbados is also an island. Hence, how much effort was really put into apprehending Mrs. Davies' assailant, who might well have raped other victims as well?
As in many countries that depend on tourism, the Barbadian government rendered a disservice to Mrs. Davies when the minister of tourism did not get involved in her plight, offer her a written apology and absorb all of her costs stemming from her attack. Many foreign countries have victim compensation programs for victims of crime, but obviously not for the quarter of a million Britons that visit Barbados each year.
The reality is that there are no "safe" countries, even when one's accommodations are situated in an upscale area. Criminality is on the rise in virtually all developing countries for reasons to length to explain in this filing. Yet, the reason so many crimes occur is because of an unprofessionally low "clearance" rate as a result of an arrest. It would indeed be interesting to determine just how many of the thirteen rapes that occurred where Mrs. Davies was attacked have been cleared by an arrest, let alone a conviction.
One thing all travelers should and must do when they first arrive in a country is to talk at length to knowledgeable locals, because they know where serious crime is occurring and must cope with it every day of the year, not just during a short vacation. Unfortunately, other tourists don't have this level of on-the-ground experience.
Particularly in a condominium complex as Mrs. Davies was staying at, it is also best to cultivate friendship with other tourists so that one is not alone when engaged in outside activities, for clearly tourists that are alone, particularly the elderly, are at risk regardless of the time of day. There is safety in numbers.