Don't let child abusers go free!

Rights advocate who was raped at nine says parents should ensure they get justice for victims

BY TANESHA MUNDLE
Observer staff reporter
mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

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A Jamaican-born international children and women's right advocate is urging mothers and guardians to think about the hurt that they are perpetuating when they allow child abusers to go free instead of doing all in their power to get justice for the victim.

Sandra Gipson, 54, a board member on the United States-based National Council of Negro Women, who herself was a victim of child rape while in Jamaica, spoke candidly about how her mother's unwillingness to pursue justice for her had negatively impacted her life.

“I am a survivor of child rape. I was raped when I was nine,” she said during her address at the Second Biennial Protect the Children Symposium at the University of Technology, recently.

She said when the matter went for trial, her mother told the court that she wanted to close the case and the offender was allowed to go free as her mother did not “want any disgrace to come down on the family”.

“And I never forget that; I walked out of there feeling so helpless. Because here is a man walking off who have raped me and took away my virginity and he wasn't locked up,” Gipson said.

“That decision made me feel that my mother did not love me up to this day. I resented my mom and my mother and I have not bonded because of that decision; our relationship is not together.

“I love her, I do everything for her, but deep down in my heart I felt like she had failed me and as a child I don't feel like I was protected,” she added.

According to Gibson, she grew up feeling insecure and had a very low self-esteem.

“... It affected my whole life and I had to get counselling, ongoing counselling but I am purged now, that's why I can talk about it today,” she said.

When asked if her mother had ever apologised for it, Gipson said her mother never did because she herself was a victim; a victim of domestic abuse.

“Hurting people hurt people,” she suggested.

“I watched my mother being a victim of domestic violence for years and never fought back. So hurting people hurt people. So how is she going to have remorse for me?” the women's right advocate asked.

Gipson said her mother thought that was the norm because of what she was experiencing in her own life.

However, she said what was interesting was that her mother was a Christian and still is today. She said that instead of hiding under the coat of Christianity, people, including Christians, need to come together as a village and save the children and restore women's dignity and pride.

She added: “Parents or guardians, if you choose to let the predators off, you're doing a child injustice, you're putting a human being in society in which he/she cannot function. You're putting a human being in society who's going to have lots of problems in life, who's going to open up to more predators and domestic violence and that's how my life went.”

“I moved from being a victim of rape to a victim of domestic violence,” she added.

Gipson, at the same time, said more awareness and education is needed to let women know about what behaviours and treatment are acceptable.


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