Over 7,000 children sexually abused in last four years …………..

Finally some attention has been brought to something some of us knew all along based on the secrecy we have in Jamaica on this issue but the numbers are staggering and these are supposedly reported cases, so far the discussion has been good in as far as recognising the problem and the usual conflation with male homosexuality is not present which is good as both issues are NOT THE SAME although same sex paedophilia occurs and sadly the vitcims suffer physically and mentally in some cases as anger and other emotions are internalized and lead to serious issues later in life.

The recent lesbian coercion issue seems to have morphed or pushed us into this issue as well as it was just anout that time attention was brought to rampant child abuse by an article in the Jamaica Observer about the issue from a frustrated female doctor photographed below.

In Part it read:

One which still traumatises her to this day is the case of a nine-year-old boy who was buggered by the pastor his mother left him with while she went to work.

Although the boy became withdrawn and lost his appetite, the buggery was not discovered until his teacher complained that he was defecating on himself while at school.

Dr Knight said when the mother took him to the hospital his penis was swollen and scarred and his anus torn.

“You could literally look up the child’s anus to the rectum,” Dr Knight said.

The child later revealed that the pastor had been raping him for some time and would give him $20 each time he had sex with him.

Another case she will never forget was that of an 18-month-old boy who died after being buggered by an uncle, two years ago.

“I saw that baby two days before he died,” a distraught Dr Knight said.

She recalled the day the near lifeless baby was brought to the hospital by his uncle and a pregnant girlfriend to be treated for a cold.

As she attempted to resuscitate the unconscious baby, she noticed his stomach was growing at an alarming pace.

“I was so busy resuscitating him that I didn’t immediately think of turning the child over and when I turned him over the anus was destroyed,” she said. “The uncle had raped the baby and when the penis went into the anus it tore off the colon (bowel) and the faeces started to run into the abdominal cavity,” she explained, adding that the baby had no chance of living.

In the Observer today the captioned post title was part of the healdine on the issue, it read as follows:

AT least 7,245 Jamaican children are reported to have been sexually assaulted over the last four years, according to complaints received by the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR).

At the same time, OCR officials say that Jamaica’s “informer fi dead” culture is preventing even more people from reporting the dastardly acts.

While it is not clear if more children are becoming victims of sexual abuse, statistics from the OCR have shown a massive spike in the number of reports received, with the figure jumping from 121 reported cases in 2007 to 2,652 as of last year.

There is however no system in place as yet at the registry to determine how many of these reported cases have been prosecuted.

But despite these high numbers, it took the voice of a frustrated and traumatised medical practitioner to shine the spotlight on the plight of these children and to evoke public outrage.

A number of state agencies which deal with children’s issues have since called on Jamaicans to break their silence.

The Child Development Agency (CDA), Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA), Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) yesterday issued a joint statement as a result of this week’s Sunday Observer lead story in which Dr Sandra Knight highlighted the plight of Jamaican children who have been raped and in some cases infected with sexually transmitted diseases.

In response to the article, which has generated much public outrage, concern and offers of help, the agencies said Jamaicans need to break the silence on this “intolerable violation of children’s rights”.

The agencies lauded Dr Knight for being outspoken on the issue in the media.

“Sexual abuse is one of the most heinous forms of violence against children, which no child should ever have to endure,” the statement said.

The State bodies said the alarming news that greeted the public on Sunday has been a major concern of theirs for many years.

“Our agencies have each been working with a range of partners over many years to address this issue, through programmes, policies and laws that seek to prevent abuse and to provide treatment and care for young victims,” the agencies said.

Noting that sexual abuse is a complex issue, the agencies admit that their work on the ground and at the policy level is not enough.

“All Jamaicans, including professionals who work with children, parents, caregivers, the media and the public must assume their responsibility to protect the nation’s children,” the agencies said, adding that “breaking the silence is critical”.

On Tuesday, Greig Smith, registrar of the OCR, and his colleague public education specialist Trevesa Dasilva Ashman both agreed that the “informer fi dead’ culture, which has kept Jamaicans silent on so many issues, has resulted in a lot more persons not speaking up about sexual abuse of the nation’s children.

Smith told the Jamaica Observer that prior to the establishment of the registry there were concerns by the public as to where they could report these cases without their identities being revealed.

“Persons may say if I go to the police or any other agency, by [the] time I reach back the community it is being said that I made a report,” he explained.

However, because of the OCR’s confidentiality clause, the identity of the reporter is never revealed.

As such, persons can call the registry at 1-888-776-8328 between 7:00 am and 11:00 pm to report any suspected case of child abuse; whether it is neglect, child labour, trafficking, physical, emotional or sexual.

Smith explained that the information is assessed and recorded, following which a report is prepared and forwarded to the CDA, the OCA and the Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse for investigation and/or intervention.

Dasilva Ashman said while persons making the report do not have to give their names, they are strongly encouraged to do so in the event the matter reaches the court, as the law states that if someone suspects child abuse and does not report it they can be charged or imprisoned.

“We had a case of a mother who knew her child was being sexually abused by the boyfriend and did not report it and the case was brought before the courts and the OCR was subpoenaed to go to court to testify if the mother had made the report. We got the report, but it was not made by the mother, but someone else, and she has been imprisoned since for failure to report,” she explained.

Majority of the reports to the OCR are from ‘prescribed’ persons, according to Dasilva Ashman. These are persons such as doctors, teachers guidance counsellors social workers, etc who, by virtue of their occupation, care for children.

“One of the things we do in communication activities is to target these prescribed persons because we realise they are in a strategic position to be able to identify when a child is being abused and be able to report it,” she said.

 ENDS

In subsequent television and radio discussions on the matter the issue of buggery was raised and the CISOCA Head Superintendent (photo above) hinted that buggery was on the rise with older perpetrators and younger boys but it did not suggest rampant homosexuality or that men were specifically targeting boys for sex although the issue is of concern for child advocates. A sex offences registry is also in the works and just over 25 persons were arrested in 11 days for various sexual offences against children which suggests the problem is far larger than thought. She said boys needed to be watched just as the girls.

I have always tried to make the point that while anti gay activists worry about consenting adults engaging in anal sex they should be more concerned about the abuse of children and now it seems the chickens are coming home to roost. I hope the issue of paedohilia can be properly discussed in the public domain and we do not slip into confusing adult gay male activity with men (some of whom are not homosexual) who are sexually attracted to prepubescent persons of the same gender.

Co-host of Smile Jamaica Simone Clarke hit a fundamental question I have been asking for years, why are we so fired up about homosexuality yet when it comes to our children we confuse consent with peadophilia? hence leading to the homo negativity and homophobia in Jamaica. She posed the question and frustratingly so on April 3 on the morning show on Television Jamaica they also went on to look at myths and disturbing paedophilia with little girls and getting rid of diseases.

TVJ’s Smile Jamaica on difference between paedophilia & Homosexuality 03.04.12

Certainly we have a long way to go.

Peace and tolerance

H

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Author: GLBTQ Jamaica Moderator

Activist and concerned gay man in Jamaica with over 19 years experience in advocacy and HIV/AIDS prevention work, LGBT DJ since 1996.

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