ORANJESTAD – “The government should keep its promise to turn December 6th into a national day of mourning so that we remember that this can never happen again. They haven’t done that yet”, says Marie Anastacia, aunt of the brothers Rishandroh and Eugene who were murdered two years ago.
The family joined the protest against child abuse organized by action group Ta Basta!. Three protest groups organized walks on Friday July 3rd, bringing out more than 800 people. That is a large number for Aruba, and there were a noticeable amount of young individuals at the protest.
Report by Sharina Henriquez
There has been an uprising in the protests against this persistent problem on the island for weeks now. The government promised after the death of the two boys in 2017 to make tackling child abuse a top priority. They launched the social crisis plan with a separate fund. But the reactions over the past few weeks and on Friday show that people believe that not enough progress has been made.
The protest feels like a repeat of the last big protest in 2011. They are protesting once more for a tougher approach to especially the sexual abuse of minors. Parliament already acknowledged this problem ten years ago but they only approved the law with higher sentences for abusers last week.
However, the demonstrators don’t believe that these higher sentences are enough. Additionally, more measures are needed. These points are not new and shows that there is not enough progress on Aruba. The manifesto of Ta Basta! could be a copy of the one from 2011. Back then about 10 thousand people signed it, now that’s 12 thousand.
It’s about things like shoring up crucial institutions which fight child abuse. Like the special victims unit of the police, victim aid, the guardianship council, education, and social affairs department. This is why a lot of abuse cases are not being picked up and the reason why perpetrators are not being prosecuted.
‘We want actions rather than words’
The government promised to sit with the protesters next week. “We are serious this time, we won’t stop”, screams one of the organizers, Dany Marquez through a megaphone. “We want actions rather than words”, the protesters chant in front of the government building.
The willingness to protest has increased since a Facebook group called Aruba sex offender, pedophile public registry was launched last month. With stories of victims who are mostly speaking out publicly for the first time and also exposing the perpetrators. This is a first on the island because of the taboo associated with the topic.
‘When I was eleven, a man abused me. He’s from a family which has several pedophiles’
“We’re also here to break those taboos”, says protester Jamie Bareño. “90 percent of the perpetrators is someone the victim knows, research has shown. I experienced it myself. When I was eleven, a man abused me. It’s someone I knew from church. He’s from a family which has several pedophiles and he’s still walking around, a free man.”