11-year-old rescued from child prostitution
After running away from home at least three times in under a month, an 11-year-old girl who was lured into prostitution, allegedly by a 16-year-old girl, has been finally removed from the streets into the safe haven of a state home.
"The good thing about it is that she was given the opportunity to sit her GSAT exam. She was taken from the state home to the exam centre," Inspector Racquel Longmore, head of the West Kingston Police Community Safety Security Branch (CSS), told The Gleaner yesterday.
According to the police, the minor confessed that she followed other girls to a particular market in downtown Kingston, where she went and made sex-for-money-arrangements. While there is not yet sufficient evidence to arrest the 16-year-old girl involved, the police said they have not closed their file on the investigation.
"What happened is that the 11-year-old was reported missing sometime in March. She was eventually spotted and picked up by the police and handed over to her father, but shortly after, she ran away again. Our intelligence led us to a house that was nearby the Denham Town Police Station, where some activities were taking place. Residents were of the view that the participants were underage. The police went there, and she was seen and taken from the house to the police station. After questioning, she admitted that she was working, having sex for money," Longmore explained.
"The child's father was called in, and when he came, he threw himself to the ground, wept openly, and begged us to helped him because he believed that he had done everything possible that a father could have done for a daughter.
"He even went further and explained that because of the problem with his daughter, he suffered a nervous breakdown," the subofficer further said, noting that CISOCA, CDA, and other relevant agencies had been made aware of the matter.
After running away a third time, the child was held and put before the Family Court then sent to the state home.
As the mother of two boys, it has not been an easy road for Longmore, who has been reaching out to these children.
"I have dealt with other things, but this is one of the worse cases that I have dealt with. When an 11-year-old can confess that they are collecting money for sex, as a people, we have to ask ourselves the question, How are we failing these children? I have grown from an emotional stage to a now more tolerable level," the 16-year veteran of the police force said. "Sometimes when I leave work and I'm driving home, remembering these things, I feel so depressed," she added.
This case is but one of the many problems that the CSS team in West Kingston has to be dealing with on a daily basis.
"We deal with minor to bigger offences, domestic disputes. Just about everything," said Constable Daedre Blackstock, who has six years service.
In its attempt to address the problems, the Kingston Western CSS team said it has strategised by having meetings at various levels with the communities they serve, inviting representatives from the different agencies to come and speak with parents. They also have socials, church services, workshops, summer camps, and counselling sessions for the children.
Persons in the Kingston West Police Division having similar issues with their children are being asked to call the CSS team at 922-4262, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.