Thu | Sep 29, 2022

DEFILED

Pregnancies from child sex abuse cases re-ignite abortion concerns; CAPRI stands by controversial abortion study recommendations

Published:Sunday | June 27, 2021 | 12:13 AMCorey Robinson - Senior Staff Reporter
King
King
Cuthbert Flynn
Cuthbert Flynn
Recent reports by the Child Development and Family Planning Agency (CPFSA) that 249 girls have been impregnated in sex crimes since 2020,
Recent reports by the Child Development and Family Planning Agency (CPFSA) that 249 girls have been impregnated in sex crimes since 2020,
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It has been two decades of long showers, uselessly trying to scrub away the shame and guilt that torment victims, but, for Latanya Binns*, those emotions may never leave – especially as her first child came from her being heinously raped at age 17.

Her attacker was a family friend living at the back of their St Andrew tenement yard, and it did not matter that he had a spouse who recently gave birth, nor that Binns' parents respected him. In fact, that familiarity, and Binns' mother's Christian principles, may be to blame for the act never being reported to the police, she said. Then, he was 30.

Recent reports by the Child Development and Family Planning Agency (CPFSA) that 249 girls have been impregnated in sex crimes since 2020, bring back familiar feelings of despair Binns for years has buried deep.

“There is nothing you can tell those girls; each of them just have to deal with it in their own way, with strong support from people who love them. You never really get over it,” she said.

ADDED EVIDENCE

The report from Jamaica's joint investigative child sex abuse team is also “added evidence”, vindication even, for a CAPRI study dubbed: 'Coming to Terms, The Cost of Unequal Access to Safe Abortion in Jamaica', which in February revealed that some 22,000 abortions are carried out annually in Jamaica.

The report was ripped apart by members of the public, particularly the religious community, for recommendations that girls be allowed to abort pregnancies without the consent of their parents.

“Yes, there was a backlash but the study was informed by the evidence, and this recent revelation is only more evidence to support why that recommendation was made in the first place,” said Diana Thorburn, research director at CAPRI.

She added that further studies on the impact of COVID-19 locally have also revealed an increase in sexual violence in Jamaican homes, particularly among stepfathers and stepdaughters, “acts that are either condoned or encouraged by parents”.

“What prompted the recommendation is we knew that we have persons raped in their own homes with the implicit or explicit consent of their parent or guardian, and, when a girl becomes pregnant in a situation like that, to realistically expect her to go to that parent or guardian to seek consent (for abortion) is just punishing her further and putting her in a worse situation,” Thorburn stated.

Binns is all too familiar with that sentiment, even as she finds herself stuck in a never-ending nightmare of the day that changed her life forever.

“It was about midday, and we were the only ones in the yard at the time. I had just taken a shower and went outside to hang out some clothes. That is when he approached and started holding on to me,” she recalled, her brows twisting as she summoned the painful memories.

“I started to flash him off and I told him I'm not into that. I have never said anything more than 'hi and bye' to this man before. But before I knew it, this big ole' tough man lifted me up and threw me over his shoulders,” she recounted, anger now swelling her pained tone.

“He took me into his room and the whole time I was there screaming and fighting. Then, to get between my legs, he kneeled down on my knees. That really hurt. And I cried out.”

She continued, “When I felt that pain it really came to me that this was really happening and I didn't want him to hurt me anymore. So I just decided to relax. It was like I just blacked out; I stopped fighting and laid there.

“When he was done I took up my clothes, went into the bathroom and just bathed and bathed. After that, I packed a bag and went straight to my aunt's house.”

Binns stayed in Kingston for two weeks and never told her aunt what happened, a decision she has now come to regret. Neither did she tell her parents what transpired after returning home. She soon started feeling sick, and that's when things went further downhill. She was pregnant.

When confronted, her attacker lied that they were in a relationship, she said, and it was believed by her unsupportive parents. That hurt her the most, she reflected, and probably inflicted the biggest psychological scar.

“I never told them at first because my parents and I never had a good relationship. I was a physically and emotionally abused child and I was so traumatised,” she explained, recalling harsh beatings by her often-drunk father and the helplessness of her mother. “But I wish I had told my aunt when it happened. More people would have been convinced I was telling the truth.”

The incident divided Binns' family; so, too, did discussions of prosecution and abortion.

'IT'S WRONG!'

Standing firmly by CAPRI's controversial abortion study recommendations, Executive Director Dr Damien King cited last week's case of a 15-year-old girl whose mother is now behind bars for attempting to pervert the court in a bid to free her daughter's alleged rapist – a pastor in St James.

“The girl has said that, in her words, they are forcing her to retract her story. If that child becomes pregnant, is that the mother that you wanted her to go to for permission to terminate that pregnancy? Is that a mother who has the interest of the child at heart?” he asked rhetorically.

“Rapes are the violent extreme of the problem and we are jarred by the statistics, but we are saying that it is the tip of an iceberg that includes all of the non-violent sexual exploitation of children,” continued King, who came under fire for his stance, along with Member of Parliament Juliet Cuthbert Flynn, who has been pushing for amendments to the Abortion Act.

The St Andrew West Rural MP was not available for comment for this story, but, in a Twitter post last week, bemoaned: “I am outraged that so many of our young girls are raped daily in Jamaica and some get pregnant by a stranger. Our law doesn't protect them. Instead, our law says you must carry that baby. A decision made by a rapist. It's wrong!”

 

[* Name changed to protect identity]

 

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com