Punish the beasts who prey on little girls
Teen mothers who spoke with the Jamaica Observer during an exclusive interview at Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation are seen here. (Photo: Joseph wellington)

THROUGHOUT the 29 years of this newspaper’s existence we have reported some horrific cases of child abuse and, in particular, rape of little girls.

Among the most painful stories was that of a girl who was raped by a cousin when she was 13 years old. That victim, now in her late 20s, told us that her high school years were difficult because of discrimination, due to the horrific incident.

She was further traumatised at 18 when she was raped by her father.

Unfortunately, but most understandably, she remained silent about her ordeal until she met the man with whom she now shares a healthy relationship, after which she received counselling through non-government organisation Eve For Life.

At the time we reported that young woman’s story in 2020, Eve For Life Executive Director Ms Joy Crawford told us that cases of incest were worryingly frequent. Her organisation had been receiving at least two calls per month in relation to sexual abuse of children by relatives, over the prior three-year period, she said then.

We were reminded of that young woman’s case on speaking this week with three teen mothers — one 13 years old and two age 15 — who are among 585 enrolled at the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation for the academic year 2021/22.

One of the 15-year-old girls, who gave birth four months ago, said her life was thrown into a tailspin when she was raped at age six by her mother’s boyfriend. After that most heinous crime her mother abandoned her, the teenager said.

At age 10, she said, her mother returned and took her to live in St Catherine with her, only to abandon her again. We don’t know that mother’s side of the story but we can’t support any parent, regardless of their circumstances or their feelings about the relationship they are having with their children, leaving their offspring without protection.

So this little girl, having already been sexually groomed, ends up living with a boy, who himself was still in school, and, unfortunately, became pregnant at age 14.

In the case of the 13-year-old girl, who is now eight months pregnant, she was impregnated when she was 12 years old by a man living in the same Portland community as her grandmother.

As stated earlier, we have published many of these heartbreaking stories over our near three decades of existence. What normally puzzles us is that each time we highlight these atrocities there is very little, if any, public outrage.

In the cases we have highlighted here the authorities need to explain why the adult perpetrators of these crimes have not been prosecuted.

We accept that any such action requires evidence. As such, there needs to be greater effort to break the culture of silence among the populace. At the same time, the authorities need to demonstrate that these crimes will be properly investigated and speedily taken before the courts.

In our report on Tuesday we pointed out that data provided by the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation showed that there were 264 teen moms for the 2020/21 school year, 413 for 2019/20, and 518 for 2018/19.

That, we believe, is enough evidence of the need to act quickly against the beasts who prey on little girls.

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