As Barbadians of a gone-by era might say the island’s commissioner of police, Darwin Dottin, is “in more trouble than Nasser when he block de canal!”
This dated Bajan saying recalls Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s fateful confrontation with the British government in the 1956 Suez Crisis. I use it to underscore Commissioner Dottin’s grave dilemma, as he finds himself at the racing heart of the rape-rationalizing scandal that has beset the island heralded as the “gem of the Caribbean sea.”
This double-rape (physical and psychosocial) scandal has led to calls for an official inquiry by the government of Barbados, a premier tourist destination that is particularly popular with the British.
These calls follow the Dottin-led Royal Barbados Police Force’s (RBPF) alleged scandalous treatment of two British women, Dr. Rachel Turner and Diane Davies, who were raped two days apart on the island in October 2010.
Turner and Davies, who have waived their right to anonymity, say that having suffered that most vile of violations of one’s personal space, they have subsequently been subjected to a cruel, crime-circumnavigating circus for approximately two years.
They say the RBPF, having identified local man Derek Crawford as the rapist, has spent approximately two years doggedly ignoring their persistent, consistent claim that it was not him who raped them.
This alleged diamond-hard indifference of the RBPF to their evidence led Turner and Davies to launch a public campaign to clear Crawford’s name. Their efforts have been supported by a third British victim, Hilary Heath, who was raped in similar circumstances eight years ago.
Turner and Davies’ refusal to testify against Crawford led to the case against him being dismissed on Dec. 13.
Speaking on the matter at a Dec. 28 press conference, Dottin apparently exacerbated the situation by saying that he is not losing any sleep over the way his officers have conducted their investigations.
But the blinder, as reported by the BBC, seems to be the highly educated top cop’s suggestion that the white women, Turner and Davies, could not be relied on to accurately identify their attacker because he was black.
Yet Dottin’s suggestion that interracial, facial-features-blending tendencies may have limited Turner and Davies’ ability to identify their attacker is not as inflammatory a proposition as it may first appear.
It certainly was not tabled in as decisive or oppositional a tone as suggested by the Dec. 30 BBC report referenced by this writer previously.
In fact, having seen a lengthier video extract of Dottin’s press-conference statements than that posted by the Nation newspaper on its website (and also referenced by this writer), one can see how he may have felt it reasonable to question the reliability of Turner and Davies’ recollection of the appearance of the man who raped them.
In that video extract, posted on YouTube by the Bajan Reporter blog, Dottin says that Crawford fled the island following the rapes and that when he had been tracked down and brought back to Barbados his appearance had changed.
Of particular concern to this writer is that the BBC report I cited in my previous article on this sad, scandalous double-rape affair seems to have followed the Nation’s reductionist reporting strategy, rather than the Bajan Reporter’s more liberal sharing of information.
If not reductionism, how should we label the BBC’s failure or refusal to report Commissioner Dottin’s comments suggesting that Crawford may have changed the length of the hair on his face and head?
If not for some reductionist expedient, how would the BBC explain its omission of Dottin’s clear prefacing of his suggestion that Turner and Davies may not have recognized the attacker because he was a "different race," with words indicating that he was making a generalization and not questioning their recollection of the rapist’s appearance categorically.
From this writer’s perspective, the open-ended, tentative tone of Dottin’s comment—as portrayed in the Bajan Reporter video clip—contrasts markedly with the impression conveyed by the BBC article, written by Nic Rigby.
Now, those who know something of what this Barbadian writer in “exile” has suffered at the hands of successive Barbados governments and their religious, academic, corporate and other co-conspirators (or coincidental “accomplices”) will know that I am not in the business of covering up my compatriots’ shortcomings.
I am not saying that if everything Commissioner Dottin said at the Dec. 28 press conference or did prior to it were made public knowledge the RBPF’s questioning of Turner’s and Davies’ belief that it was not Derick Crawford who raped them would be vindicated.
I am saying that there is more to this matter than the BBC, Nation newspaper and other news sources seem capable of comprehending and communicating.
In his press conference, a clearly bemused Commissioner Dottin challenges Barbadian journalists to be more enterprising in their use of available data around the diamond-bright double-rape saga that has excited the interest of news mongers and consumers globally.
Like Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” comment and other blunders, this sad saga arguably offers a treasure trove of positive and negative opportunities for the international media community.
I certainly am hoping to “cash in” on the matter, so to speak. And my reference to the petition I have initiated with the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is evidence of my agenda.
The email I sent Dr. Turner on Dec. 2, which remains unanswered, explains my agenda more explicitly. In it I invite Dr. Turner and Ms. Davies to join their efforts with my own and Canadian diplomat Isaac Goodine’s long-running efforts to tackle deep-seated corruption on the island that we both care for deeply.
I write, “I believe that your and Ms. Davies' campaign for justice—for Mr. Crawford and yourselves—could catalyse a wider move for justice and reform in Barbados.”
I explain, “I have been campaigning with my friend Isaac Goodine for such justice and reform for a number of years now. Isaac is a retired Canadian diplomat, educationist and businessman who suffered another kind of ‘rape’ at the hands of some of Barbados' ‘untouchables’”
[The full content of that email will be published on the Intelek International website, along with other correspondence and materials relevant to my campaign.]
The Nasser/Suez analogy with which I began this article is rich in the parallels it affords.
Commissioner Dottin certainly may be facing a threat of character assassination that is comparable to the very real threat of assassination that the Egyptian President Nasser faced, courtesy then British Prime Minister Anthony Eden.
Hopefully, as with that crisis—at least for a time, and thanks to the cautioning influence of American President Dwight Eisenhower—cooler heads will prevail.
Hopefully, the indifference, delaying and diversionary obstacles that I have had to deal with in my justice, reconciliation and reparations seeking interactions with Prime Ministers Owen Arthur, David Thompson and now Freundell Stuart and the Barbadian government will not prevent the convening of an official inquiry, if that is what it will take to satisfactorily resolve all of the issues that have been raised by the double-rape circus and tragedy.
The local and international media can play an important role in ensuring that the man who raped Dr. Turner and Ms. Davies—be it Crawford or someone else—is ultimately caught and punished.
Barbadian and other journalists can help ensure that Dottin’s and the RBPF’s alleged shortcomings are properly assessed.
But that will require us to be balanced in our reporting.
To borrow words from Barbadian global pop icon and businesswoman Rihanna’s song “Diamonds,” which I have also repeatedly referenced in my coverage of this matter, journalists should not let the heroism-hinged glamour, media metrics or other financial considerations that come with this chance to shine bright “like diamonds in the sky” blind us to significant details of the story.
The news-consuming, listening, reading and viewing public also needs to be mindful of its responsibility to think independently and exercise caution when assessing my reports or anyone else’s.
And I have been careful to indicate where I am dependent on second-hand sources in my reporting for this reason precisely.
As Barbadians might say, “There is more in de mortar than de pestle.” Care must be taken in the conclusions we reach.
There is more to this matter than a number of journalists seem able or willing to share.