Mon | Dec 5, 2016

'Nuh Guh Deh'

Published:Sunday | October 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Eve for Life kicks off campaign to end sexual abuse of girls

Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:With more than 3,000 cases of child rape and carnal abuse reported to the Office of the Children's Registry (OCR) in 2013, and anecdotal evidence suggesting that hundreds of other cases were not reported, the campaign to protect Jamaica's children, particularly the girls, is developing steam.

Last year's figures represent a 23 per cent increase over 2012, but because of the trauma and stigma associated with sexual violence, a number of these cases still go unreported, as does the impact of this type of violence on survivors.

At the launch of NGO Eve for Life's 'Nuh Guh Deh' campaign, a social dialogue to 'end sex with the girl child', in Kingston yesterday, it was noted that the girls are the main victims.

"Of the reported cases, 92 per cent were of girls and more than half of all reported cases of sexual abuse were deemed as carnal abuse (sex with children under 16 years old); 10 per cent were rapes, 10 per cent fondling and three per cent were for incest, oral sex and buggery," Eve for Life's Pat Watson told The Sunday Gleaner.

Watson and her team have released a book titled I am Now Free, a story based on the diaries of a survivor of child abuse and rape, by a young woman called Ashley.

Now 24 years old, Ashley was raped and abused repeatedly by her uncle from age 12 to 16. By 21 she was diagnosed with HIV, which she said was passed on to her by her abuser.

YOUNG MOTHERS ABUSED

"Based on the high number of young mothers who stated that they experienced abuse in 2013, we began a support group for survivors of sexual and physical abuse in Montego Bay, St James," explained Watson.

With funding from the British High Commission and the United States Ambassador's Fund, a total of 13 young women agreed to participate in the project, aimed at highlighting the devastating impact of childhood sexual abuse and its possible links to HIV and early motherhood.

According to Watson, the young sexual abuse survivors face many challenges, including pregnancy during their teen years and interrupted education - most dropped out of school and are currently unemployed.

"Some have serious challenges trusting males, some are still experiencing sexual and physical abuse, and some engage in risky behaviour that put them at risk of further abuse or contracting other sexually transmitted infections."

Watson noted that Ashley was one of the brave young women who participated in the programme and has shared six of the diaries she wrote while being abused.

"Ashley has expressed her desire to publish her story in order to do her part in making Jamaicans more aware of the issue of sexual abuse of girls in order to prevent this happening to yet another young Jamaican girl," said Watson.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com