12-y-o says dad impregnated her and her half-sister
BY INGRID BROWN Associate editor — special assignment firstname.lastname@example.org
A 15-year-old, whose father impregnated her and his 14-year-old stepdaughter, wants the full weight of the law to be meted out to the man who robbed her of her virginity, halted her education and inflicted immeasurable emotional damage on her.
The man, whose children's mothers have since died from HIV, was believed to have raped his daughter based on the myth that a HIV-infected man can be cured of the disease if he has sex with a virgin.
Now the teen mother of a four-month-old boy said not only can she never forgive her father, but must also struggle to love the child who bears a striking resemblance to him.
With the emotional scars still fresh in her mind the teen, who was removed from the home when the police arrested her 42-year-old father last October, is hoping that someday she can put it all behind her.
For now she is hoping that a return to high school this September, which will mean a step closer to realising her dream of becoming a nurse, will help in the healing process.
"Sometimes I don't really want to see the baby because when I look at him I remember what happen to me, especially since him favour him so much, and so sometimes when I am upset I make my cousin feed him for me," the upset teen told the Jamaica Observer.
The teen, who is from rural Jamaica, lived with her father even after her parents' relationship ended and the mother left the home. The father, she explained, later established a relationship with another woman who at the time had nine-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.
The teen said she would frequently visit her mother, who lived in an adjoining district, until age 12 when the mother, who had been ailing for sometime, died from AIDS.
"I didn't know she was that sick, although me use to see her always ah take pill, but next thing I hear she was dead and I just couldn't stop crying," she recalled.
But the father, who she thought would have been there to see her through what was an extremely difficult time, had other plans for her and it all unfolded shortly before her 14th birthday.
On that day, the teen said she was at home with her twin siblings, who were toddlers at the time, having not gone to school that day. Her stepmother, who has since died from the disease, had left the home after repeated disputes and was said to have been dancing in a night club.
"Me hear one car stop and me look and see it was him come and so me run go in me room go pick up a book and start to read and him look in fi see what ah was doing, then him go put down him bag," she said.
A few minutes later, the father, a skilled labourer, returned to her room and began commenting on how big she had become, she said.
"Him start to touch me up and me tell him to stop but him wouldn't... me try to push him off but him hold down me two hands over me head and me couldn't move and then him rape me," she said as her voice faltered.
The teen said he warned her not to tell anyone what had happened and in exchange for her silence the father started being extremely nice to her.
But even as she silently bore this ordeal, her life was further turned upside down a month later.
"I told him ah miss my period and him start to boil dog blood bush and (a popular pain killer) gi mi fi drink fi dash way di belly," she recalled.
According to the teen, when that did not work, her father told her that if she was ever asked she should say she was pregnant for someone else.
Shortly after, she discovered that her now 14-year-old stepsister was also pregnant, but both girls hid from each other who had impregnated them.
When the girls' pregnancies became obvious, the teen said the father gave them cloth bands to wear around their stomach. But the secret did not stay hidden from the community and before long word got out that the girls were pregnant for their father.
"The people in the community start talk seh we pregnant and my aunty call fi ask and me tell her the name weh me father say me fi say if anybody ask," the teen said.
But the vigilant residents, convinced the father was sexually abusing the children, reported the matter to the police.
"One morning we home and the police come knock on the door and ask fi him and when dem see our belly them teck him go to the station," she recounted.
She said her stepmother, who had been admitted to hospital, told her to get out of the district and go to Kingston to find her aunt, however while she waited for a taxi to leave the district the police saw her and took her to the station.
"Me still never tell dem say is him, instead I told them the story him say I was to tell anybody," she said.
However, it took the intervention of her aunt for her to finally disclose to the police the horrible truth.
During this time her stepsister, stepmother and twin siblings were holed up in a house with the father who was being sought by the police.
A month later when the mother succumbed to AIDS, the police took in the daughter, who was still living with her stepfather, for questioning and although she continued to lie at first, she later confessed who impregnated her.
On December 25, the teen gave birth to a boy and a month later her stepsister also gave birth to a son.
The teen has since been accepted into high school but said she is uncertain if she will be able to afford to start come September as her aunt has the sole financial responsibility for the baby.
"My aunt say she will leave her job and keep the baby fi me but she need to get a sewing machine so she can stay home and make things and so I would like to get some help," she said.
The teen said she also wants to be able to go back to church like she did when her mother was alive.
Asked what she hopes will happen to her father she said without hesitation, "I want him to get plenty sentence."
Convenor of Hear the Children's Cry Betty Ann Blaine, whose organisation the teen has now turned to for counselling, said the sexual abuse against the nation's children is far worse than what is reported.
"What we are seeing and hearing is only the tip of the iceberg," she said.
She also expressed concern that while the cases involving people of the poorer class are reaching her organisation and the media, the cases of upper class children who are being molested are not reaching anyone.
The Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), which started as a lobby group for children, has now taken on fully the role of offering emotional and physical support to the many abused and traumatised persons who turn up for help.
During the Sunday Observer's visit to the organisation's office, a teacher called in to seek help in reporting the matter of a now pregnant 16-year-old who had confided in her that she had been living with a 45-year-old man since she was in grade five at primary school.
The teacher said the police were refusing to take on the matter now that the child was at the age of consent.
"This is why we have to decide the age of consent and the age of a child because it can't be that a child can have sex at 16 but is not considered an adult until 18," Blaine argued.
Counsellors at the NGO Celta Kirkland and Maxine Cooper said the organisation has become overwhelmed with the stories of persons who have sought their intervention.
"We have more people who are desperate and have nowhere to turn, so they come here," explained Kirkland.
In some instances, Cooper said persons are of the opinion that they cannot get redress quickly through some of the institutions, which are themselves overwhelmed, hence the need to turn elsewhere for help.
Now the organisation is in need of more counsellors and a clinical psychologist so as to better cater to the needs.
"We now rely on donations, but we need funding to help these families," Blaine said, adding that were it not for the Yellow Pages, which granted them free office space, they would not have been able to continue the work.