Statement from Margaret Pratt on tourist rape in St Lucia

I was shocked and saddened to hear that a British tourist had been assaulted and raped while on holiday in St Lucia over the Easter weekend. I know from my own experiences and from talking to other victims of violent crime in St Lucia just how upsetting and frightening these kinds of attacks can be, and I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the lady concerned.

Although St Lucia is portrayed to the rest of the world as a beautiful island paradise, it does have a sinister side and it can be a dangerous place for overseas visitors, particularly those that don't stay in hotel compounds where they are protected by large walls and armed security guards.

This latest attack adds to a catalogue of violence against visitors that include my own assault, the murders of my husband Roger, Gloria Greenwood and Oliver Gobat, and the rape of my friend Georgina Mortimer. Justice has not been done and no-one has even stood trial in these cases.

In November 2017 a British tourist was robbed at gunpoint on Reduit Beach in Gros Islet. In December a couple staying on a yacht moored at Castries were assaulted, robbed and hospitalised while shopping for food at the market.

There have been at least five further thefts from yachtspeople in St Lucia since the start of 2018, although the real figure could be much higher. St Lucia is aware of the damage that crime can do to the island’s reputation as a tourist destination and there is pressure on victims from all levels to stay silent about their experiences.

The people of St Lucia are overwhelmingly kind and welcoming to visitors, but St Lucia is the grip of a violent crime epidemic and the island's overstretched, under-resourced justice system is failing to cope with its spiral of decline. While attacks on tourists bring these matters to international attention, locals are most affected.

Politicians have admitted to there being 'serial rapists' on the loose in St Lucia, while gun culture, gangland activity and attacks on innocents alike result in scores of murders every year. St Lucia now has one of the worst homicide rates in the world and this culture of violence is not going to change until the island starts prioritising investment in its criminal justice system over tourist marketing and ensuring that justice is done in an effective and timely manner for all concerned.

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