Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
With a growing number of teenagers and young children becoming victims of rape in recent times, experts believe the heightened exposure on the matter has contributed to more victims reporting the heinous act.
Consultant child psychiatrist Dr Ganesh Shetty said on Friday that public outrage, including the staging of a demonstration called 'Black Friday' two weeks ago, has helped children to open up about the ordeal they face as victims.
"These things might give courage to some children who are suffering the guilt of abuse for years to come and talk about it, which is a good thing," he explained.
Spate of rape incidents
In recent days, there has been a spate of rape incidents involving teenagers and children.
The most recent incident took place in Santa Cruz, St Elizabeth, where a 13-year-old girl was held at knifepoint by a man at a business establishment and raped.
There has been a great deal of outrage since an incident in Irwin, St James, last month in which five females, including an eight-year-old girl, were raped.
Statistics from the Jamaica Constabulary Force show that up to September 22, 626 cases of rape had been reported this year, a five per cent increase when compared to the 595 recorded over the corresponding period last year.
The figures for sexual intercourse with persons under 16 also skyrocketed. Between January 1 and September 22 this year, 553 were victims of the act compared with 172 persons last year.
Shetty attributed the increase to the availability of sexually explicit materials in society.
"Some people think that sex is something physical that you do to a person rather than it happening in the context of a relationship. The whole sexualised society - all the pornography, all the 'Dutty Wine' songs playing in the bus - makes children get curious, and sometimes they themselves expose themselves to sexual activities," he added.
Call for collaborative approach
Shetty called for a collaborative approach between Government and various stakeholders in addressing the growing problem.
"Everyone has a responsibility to prevent this. They all have to assist in addressing the problem - the teachers, parents, the community, everybody," he said.
Counselling psychologist Pauline Bain said the act has been going on for many years, but children who are affected seem to be speaking out more about the issue.
"Children are more aware and so they are learning how to talk about rape and sexual molestation, and in some situations in schools, they may be taught that they need to tell somebody if they have been raped, or sexually molested."
She added, "I think that some children are speaking out because they are hearing the recent news items which stir up memories and they need to get rid of the heavy burden and secrets that they have been carrying."