Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter
FEMALE SEXUAL predators are on the prowl in Jamaica, targeting young boys, but most of these abusive acts are occurring below the radar.
Most of the cases of sexual abuse of boys by women are not reported to the police and, in some instances, are condoned by society which sees it as a badge of honour for the boy even though he is below the age of consent.
Consultant clinical psychologist Dr Karen Richards told The Sunday Gleaner that, around the world, there is an under-reporting of cases where women sexually abuse young boys.
According to Richards, the Jamaican culture makes it unlikely that young boys initiated into sex by grown women would report it to the police.
"Many people don't even see this as abuse."
Last year, no more than three cases of boys abused by women were reported to the police Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA).
"From time to time, we do find cases of that nature but not a lot," head of CISOCA, Deputy Superintendent Herfa Beckford, told The Sunday Gleaner.
"Last year, we had two or three cases, but I'm not sure if there were more. Maybe there were more, but we can only speak to what was reported to us," Beckford said.
The Office of the Children's Registry (OCR) also believes that a number of cases are under-reported.
In 2009, the registry received 6,150 reports of child neglect and abuse, but only a small fraction of that related to older women abusing young boys.
"Our statistician has recorded some cases of women abusing boys, but it is a small number. The victims are usually the ones who report cases of sexual abuse, but many people see this as the boys being macho and not sexually abused," said Trevesa DaSilva, public education specialist at the OCR.
This is a perception that has not surprised Richards: "Our boys are not encouraged to talk about sexual abuse, they keep it as a secret," she said.
"Some men I have known say when they tried to talk about sexual abuse to relatives or friends, they were laughed at. What are you complaining about? I should be so lucky is the usual response," added Richards.
That's a story shared by a graduate of a Corporate Area secondary school who told The Sunday Gleaner he was coerced into a relationship with a female teacher while he was in 10th grade and not yet 16 years old.
"But when I told my friends, everyone just big me up and tell me say me a star and me would be a fool if me tell the principal," the young man recounted.
Growing up, he accepted it as a badge of honour, though now, on reflection, he realises that he was sexually abused by that teacher.
For Richards, this story could be repeated by many Jamaican boys with the adult female being a helper, an aunt, an older cousin or some other authority figure.
"If you have been sexually abused by a woman and society does not see women as sexually abusive, then nobody believes you. You go to the police station and they don't believe.
"If you tell your grandparents that this is what your aunt did, would they believe you? They probably have never even heard of a woman who sexually abuses children," said Richards.
seen as caregivers
She argued that in Jamaica, women are seen as caregivers and even when persons believe stories of women physically abusing children, they are less likely to believe stories of sexual abuse.
"Our boys are in a difficult spot because we have lost the rite of passage where you become a man by doing something or achieving something. What we have come down to is the basic element where sex is the mark of a man," said Richards.
Jamaican children are becoming sexually active younger, she said, and the society either ignores the sexual activities of the boys or adopt a congratulatory approach by giving them a pat on the back.
The clinical psychologist told The Sunday Gleaner that in her practice, she is seeing more and more men struggling to deal with their current relationships because of sexual abuse when they were young.
"They don't often describe it is as sexual abuse, but if you probe, they tell you that their feelings are dated back to their childhood and then they go on to describe sexual activities that happened with older women."
According to Richards, the physiological consequences of that abuse impacts their behaviour towards women in general later in life.
"An unexplained anger against women which sometimes results in the most horrific violence or just a communication style in a relationship that does not work," added Richards.
"So the sexually abused boy of today might abuse other children or grow into a man who has difficulties functioning in a relationship."
Reporting cases of abuse
To report cases of abuse, contact one or all of the following state agencies:
The Child Development Agency
48 Duke Street, Kingston, Jamaica
Tel.: 876-948-7206/876-948-7067 Fax: 876-924-9401
Office of the Children's Registry
A record 10,000 cases of child abuse were reported to the Office of the Children's Registry since its inception in 2007.
To contact the office, call 1-888-PROTECT (1-888-776-8328).
Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse - Jamaica (CISOCA)
Tel: 926-4079, the nearest police station or 119.
Our boys are not encouraged to talk about sexual abuse; they keep it a secret.