Sun | Dec 5, 2021

Teen girls the typical human trafficking victims in Jamaica - Children's Advocate

Published:Sunday | May 5, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison (centre), engages students attending a Social Change Luncheon hosted under the ‘We Inspire Girls to be Strong Women’ initiative at the Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston on May 2. From second left are: Eddie-Ann Gordon of Vere Technical High School; Janeil Stephens, St Catherine High; Markiesh Francis, Westwood High; Roshelle Pinnock, B.B. Coke High School; and Kerrisha Francis, Dinthill High. Looking on (at left) is the initiative’s conceptualiser, Cortia Bingham.

Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison says recent assessment shows that the typical human trafficking victims in Jamaica are girls, aged 13 to 17.

The children's advocate says this is because they usually have serious self-esteem issues and tend to “listen to anybody and do anything to get some attention, and buy into the garbage that human traffickers are feeding that target population”.

She was speaking at a Social Change Luncheon hosted under the ‘We Inspire Girls to be Strong Women’ initiative at the Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston on May 2.

This, the Children’s Advocate further stated, sets them up as prime prey for the perpetrators of this heinous crime. 

She is, therefore, encouraging young people to stay focused and not be distracted by the social media “hype”.

Gordon Harrison also cautioned them to be careful how they present themselves on social media, noting that human resource interests scout the platform to view the profiles of prospective employees.

In the meantime, the children’s advocate is encouraging girls to trust their instincts if they feel uncomfortable with certain situations, particularly instances of abuse.

“Abuse is real! It can derail your life in a very real and significant way and you need to learn to trust your instincts. It doesn’t matter who it is; if it feels wrong, chances are it is wrong.  The abuser, typically, is somebody who knows you very well and who you trust and who is close to you… so listen to those instincts,” she said.

Additionally, Gordon Harrison is encouraging young girls to aspire to become leaders and agents of change as, ultimately, “you will be the movers and shakers of tomorrow”.

Conceptualiser of We Inspire Girls to be Strong Women, Cortia Bingham, said the movement seeks to influence the next generation of women to become innovators and creative, critical thinkers who can influence positive changes in the society.

 “One of the main things that we wanted to achieve with We Inspire Girls to be Strong Women, is to create more women who are thought leaders who [can] bring bright ideas that can really push Jamaica forward,” she said.

During the luncheon, girls from five high schools presented their social change initiatives which they believe will positively impact their communities or schools. These were assessed by a panel of judges.

Eddie-Ann Gordon, a Grade 10 student from Vere Technical High School, emerged the winner with her initiative focusing on reducing cyber bullying.

She was awarded a $50,000 scholarship by Foska Oats; one-year mentorship; lunch vouchers for one school term and furniture from Courts Jamaica; a paid internship from Chas E Ramson, and sponsors’ products valued $100,000.

Second-place went to Roshelle Pinnock of B.B. Coke High, whose initiative focused on proper dining etiquette.

Markiesh Francis of Westwood High; Kerrisha Francis of Dinthill High; and Janeil Stephens of St. Catherine High also made impactful presentations.

Since 2017, the We Inspire team, through a high school tour, has been to more than 50 secondary schools islandwide, directly engaging more than 10,000 girls to think critically, dream big and create a life based on principles and values.

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