OUR CARIBBEAN: The sexual degradation of children
The degradation of children and women by acts of rape and various forms of sexual molestation seem to have grown into a frightening epidemic that is currently plaguing several member countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
The most affected and perhaps with more frequent exposures than other regional states — thanks to vigilant media — appear to be Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.
These days, it may require a strong stomach to follow some of the horrible details in the print and electronic media of the foul, criminal sexual acts against children ranging from as young as two years to those in their teens, both girls and boys.
Some of the depraved perpetrators have no respect for gender, age, race or nationality. Available data on police files or in documents of agencies looking after the interest of children would also reveal that they could be victims of family members in their homes; worse, a pastor or religious official, as well as members of law enforcement and teachers.
While Jamaica’s Office of Children’s Registry (OCR) recently reported that 7 245 children were victims of sexual assault within the past four years, and deplored the “culture of silence” instead of public outrage, the media in Trinidad Tobago have been focusing on some of the more recent abominable sexual crimes perpetrated against children.
Among the sickening cases within a two-week period, have been those of a two-year old toddler who was found to be bleeding from her private parts on arrival at the hospital where she died; and a five-year-old boy who, along with two teenagers, was a victim of gross sexual indecency by a 50-year-old man now in prison awaiting trial. Two relatives of the dead girl were being questioned by the police at the time of writing.
Violence against women has long been a sad aspect of the region and, as it is with sexual abuse of children, the abusers could also be identified across race and nationality as well as profession with members of police services included. This does not make for pleasant reading, but let us not blame the messengers.
The international financial institutions as well as agencies of the United Nations have been increasingly commenting on the disturbing levels of crime and violence in this region.
Much of the groundwork in exposing violence against women would have resulted from national/regional women’s organizations. Now, the CARICOM Secretariat and UNICEF are reportedly engaged in a study of the crimes of sexual abuse and violence against children.
Let us hope that when this “partnership” assessment of sexual abuse, indeed the degradation being suffered by the region’s children is made available to our governments, there would be less official rhetoric and realistic concerted and collaborative initiatives to methodically deal with this scourge.