NUH GUH DEH. Leave the children alone
Jody-Anne Lawrence, Lifestyle Reporter
Nickeisha Black saw her stepfather beating her mother daily. She vowed this would not happen to her. But when her mother left Jamaica to seek a better future in the United States, Black was left behind. Her stepfather took out his frustration on her - beating and raping her. Unfortunately for Black, the abuse did not just stay in the home as neighbours were aware of the situation and instead of assisting her, she and her siblings were tormented.
This is only one of the tragic stories told at the launch of Nuh Guh Deh - a national campaign to end sex with girls, on Saturday, October 11, International Day of the Girl Child. This initiative was formed under Eve for Life, something Greig Smith from the Office of Children's Registry (OCR) commended.
"As we celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child under the theme 'Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence', I wish to commend Eve for Life for the vision and commitment demonstrated by this campaign which we hope will spur the kind of drastic shift in the social consciousness of all adults," said Smith.
He highlighted statistics that showed that between January and December 2013, the OCR received 11,018 reports of child abuse. Of the reports received 8,679 represented children who were being reported on for the first time. Of this, 57 per cent was girls, 41 per cent was boys and the remaining two per cent was not specified.
Smith said that of the total reported cases for the same period, 30 per cent was sexual abuse. "Let us stand against 'the dirty old man' and the 'suga daddy', 'de top dog' and the 'high rolla'. Whatever the name associated with the much older man or woman who threatens the future of our children through selfish, uncaring acts, let us resist and report them," emphasised Smith. He ended his speech saying, "'Big man! Big woman! Leave de pickney dem alone! Nuh guh deh."
When executive director of Eve for Life, Patricia Watson spoke, she told the story of Ashley.
Ashley was raped first as a grade-six primary-school student and continuously for the next three years. She was raped, beaten, slapped and burnt when she resisted the assault by her uncle, her father's brother who lived in the same house she did.
Ashley's grandmother, the other adult in the house, did nothing about the almost nightly sexual abuse of the young girl - even when her granddaughter told her about it, even when she saw her son hold a knife to the girl's neck in her sleep. She branded her as a liar and threatened to throw her out.
She was heckled by her neighbours who called her names and accused her of allowing her uncle to rape her. It took a friend to report the situation to the Child Development Agency. Ashley stopped going to the courts shortly after and ran away from home. Ashley later found out that she had contracted HIV from her abuser.
The campaign that was launched will include public service announcements containing the story of some of these young women. As those present heard the horrendous stories, they were visibly moved. Some of the women who have gone through the abuse spoken of were present.
One of them was Rushell Gray who spoke on behalf of the other girls. It was evident through her speech that she was no longer a victim and did not want to be seen as such. Instead, she wanted to focus on helping young women who went through what she went through and help Eve for Life build awareness of this plague.
The launch has the support of British High Commissioner to Jamaica David Fitton, The United States Embassy, UNICEF, National Family Planning Board, World Learning, Famplan, Population Services International and Jamaica Child Welfare.
At the end of the night, people left moved, touched and with a new vision to play their part to 'End Sex with the Girl Child' and 'Nuh Guh Deh'.
To view the stories: http://www.eveforlife.org/nuh-guh-deh-campaign