Thursday, June 28, 2012

Daily routines of many women affected by the threat of crime in The Bahamas

Living in fear

Taneka Thompson
Guardian Senior Reporter

Every time Kayla Sands comes home she checks under the bed and looks in the closet for signs of an intruder.

Her fear of being surprised by an attacker interferes with daily errands, keeps her anxious and constantly on guard. Sands, whose name has been changed because she did not want her identity disclosed, considers herself ‘paranoid’ but said her fear is justified. A man held her up at gunpoint one afternoon last year as she picked up lunch at a popular restaurant.

Sands believed the gunman, who threatened to kidnap her and eventually stole her car, was going to kill her. Luckily she escaped the holdup alive, but in the months after the incident her anxiety over future attacks has intensified.

“I can’t even open my door to take out my garbage or sometimes even go to the bank to withdraw money by myself,” said Sands.

“I keep looking over my shoulder because of my fear that someone is going to follow me home. When I get home I look in the closets and check under the beds. It makes me very uncomfortable doing my daily routine.”

Her fear has grown after news broke Monday that over the past few months numerous women in New Providence have reportedly been raped during home invasions.

“I want a gun now. I want to be locked and loaded - I want two. [My fear] is amplified now. I didn’t even know a rapist was on the loose,” Sands told The Nassau Guardian yesterday.

She is not the only woman in New Providence who now wants to arm herself against potential rapists and other would-be attackers.

“This makes me want to go and buy a gun,” Rochelle Wells, whose name has also been changed, said yesterday, referring to the reported rapes. “It’s one thing to get robbed and even killed but I think getting raped - I can’t imagine that not being the greatest fear for any woman.”

Wells said she was the victim of a gun attack on a night in 2010. She said two armed men robbed her and her boyfriend as they pulled up to her home in eastern New Providence. The attackers shot at her car and made off with her purse.

Wells, an avid runner, is now thinking about adjusting her exercise schedule to make herself less vulnerable to attackers.

Karen Davis, who also did not want her real name disclosed, said she found out about the rapes through Facebook long before the reports made the news. She said the police should have warned the public earlier.

“We live in an Internet age and it is common to find out information from the Internet before anywhere else,” Davis said. “When you read something on the Internet, you are not sure if it is true or if the story is being exaggerated but once it was in the news, I took it more seriously.”

She said the fear of crime has not altered her life too much but she is vigilant when driving home at night.

“I do take the extra time to check the windows and doors and my surroundings before I go outside or when coming home,” Davis said.

On Monday, Assistant Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson said four alleged victims who live in eastern New Providence, reported sexual assaults over the past few weeks. This led police to increase patrols in undisclosed areas.

Four more alleged rapes occurred in western New Providence over the past few months, Ferguson said.

He added that police have received reports of one or two men breaking into homes in quiet communities and holding residents at gunpoint between 2 a.m and 6 a.m. to steal jewelery, cash and sometimes rape women.

Jun 27, 2012