Child sex abuse angers politicians!
Political representatives in some parishes identified by the police as hotspots for child sex abuse say the violation of the nation's children is of epidemic proportions, and many family members are in bed with some of the perpetrators.
Last month - celebrated as Child Month - the police listed the parishes of St Thomas, Clarendon, Westmoreland, St Ann, Hanover, and St James as some of the worst for the violent acts perpetrated on children.
Now the political representatives say their roles in the communities see them being in contact with the abusers and the families of the children victims. Some say they have been using several tools, including making appeals to their supporters when they meet.
Ian Hayles, member of parliament (MP) for Hanover Western, says the problem is rampant in his constituency.
"Child sexual abuse is big business. From where I sit, I know of at least five cases where the relatives of the victims have settled the cases for a total of $50,000, in one case $15,000," Hayles told The Sunday Gleaner.
"Once the crime takes place, the perpetrator goes into hiding, and then either him or his representatives negotiate with the victims' families, and they settle. The perpetrators walk free while the child lives with the abuse.
"The nasty thing about it is that the whole sordid affair is referred to as 'veal meat sampling'," charged Hayles, as he expressed concern at the number of parents who are willing to settle the case and allow the perverts to walk free for a little cash.
"That is why this legislation the prime minister talks about must make sense. It will be a non-starter if parents can settle without themselves facing prosecution," said an obviously angry Hayles, who charged that bus and taxi drivers were among the worst offenders.
Another angry MP is the veteran Pearnel Charles, in Clarendon North Central.
"I have visited at least 60 per cent of the schools and I have told the children that they are to first report the matter to their mothers. If the mother don't believe, go to the teachers. If the teachers don't believe, call me," Charles told The Sunday Gleaner.
focus on parenting
Charles, whose daughter Dr Patrece Charles is head of the National Parenting Commission, said in discussions with her, it was the consensus that the State must focus on issues of parenting.
"It is the biggest let-down of the child victims. In nearly all the instances, the abuser is known to the family. Either a man imported into the homes as stepfather or the children's own fathers, or other family members. And when it's not them, is some taxi or bus driver," cursed Charles.
Edmund Bartlett, MP in St James East Central, said lottery scamming which has exploded in the constituency is a big contributor to sexual abuse.
"The technologies involved in lottery scamming are used to lure young children into early sexual encounters. What we are alarmed about are the reported cases, but my guess is that the majority of the cases are not reported," said Bartlett.
"In many situations, it is a grand scheme that is protected and managed by the parents.
"I speak about child sex abuse like an evangelist. It is robbing children of their childhood. We need a congruence of moral authority in the communities, because the homes are no longer safe places for many children," he stated.
Efforts to contact the MP for St Thomas Eastern, Dr Fenton Ferguson, were unsuccessful, but the man who is trying to unseat him, the Jamaica Labour Party's Delano Seiveright, said disturbing was an understatement in the parish which has long been ranked among those with the most cases of child abuse.
rampant in remote areas
"My own experience is that in some of the more remote districts it is rampant. And there is a disconnect between the campaigns on radio and television. The signal for radio and television cannot be accessed in some areas in St Thomas. But the buck stops with the families.
"However, there is a quiet, see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil way of dealing with it," charged Seiveright.
He argued that poverty and the low literacy level were among the biggest causes of the evil in the parish.
"However, one of the reasons why the issue is not dealt with better is that too many closely aligned political persons, across the board, are among the perpetrators," said Seiveright.
In St Thomas Western, MP James Robertson said the matter was of great concern and he has used every opportunity to remind parents of their responsibilities.
"I have urged parents to report the matter to the police, and I have asked the police to be more vigilant when reports come to them," said Robertson.
Efforts to contact other MPs in areas identified as hotspots were unsuccessful up to press time.