Jamaica: Paradise Or Hell On Earth?

Commentary By Audrey Reeves
Special To New Americas

News Americas, Kingston, Jamaica, Fri. Aug. 26, 2011: Once upon a time Jamaica was regarded as one of the safest and best places for child rearing. But in today’s Jamaica, it does not appear our future matters.

Fast track to 2011 as a two-month-old baby is raped and murdered; a nine-month-old baby raped and sodomized resulting in death; several children are beheaded; a five-year-old’s throat is slashed while he sleeps; a seven-year-old is gagged, bound, stabbed seven times and has his throat slashed.

Eight and ten year-old girls are raped and murdered; children are burnt alive; male raping of young boys (most recently in Tivoli Gardens); young girls being raped and sodomized by women and mature women raping young boys, some as young as 5 years old.

This form of sexual abuse seems to be under reported. According to Dr. McGill, the problem of older women raping young boys is more prevalent than we realize. In one instance, a 6-year-old boy was raped and his body cut into pieces and thrown in a ditch.

The violence against kids is not exclusive to Jamaicans residing in Jamaica, but also the Jamaican Diaspora in North America. Two Jamaica couples were recently charged with murdering their young kids under 10 years old. One of the couple is currently serving a prison term for their crime. Equally appalling is the fact that young boys and girls are trafficked from rural Jamaica to work in the urban areas in particular tourist areas to work as prostitutes for the pedophile tourists who come to Jamaica to exploit these kids sexually. This is not exclusive to tourists, but some locals with an appetite for such deviant sexual behavior and the word is spreading in the pedophile underground world that Jamaica is the place to go for sex with minors without the risk of being caught and persecuted.

In the July 17th issue of the Jamaica Gleaner, Tyrone Reid stated that 1,500, kids and teens have been murdered since 2001. Equally frightening is that since January 2011, 1,600 children have been shot and or wounded requiring medical intervention.

For a country with a population of only 2.8 million, this is by far too many. According to Mrs. Carla Edie of the Office of the Children Registry, since 2007, there have been 12,000 reported cases of abuse and assault causing injury.

In 2009 alone there were 6,000 cases of child abuse reported. One can surmise that this number is not reflective of the true crime rate against children as those families living in rural Jamaica may not report crimes against children due to various factors; inaccessible resources, ignorance, poverty and fear and adherence to the code of silence.

UNICEF has reported that Jamaica is second in the world for child abuse and sexual exploitation. South Africa ranks number one. The issue of child sexual abuse is so rampant, that according to UNICF Jamaica, in 2006, 78 percent of the sexual assault victims treated in a health care setting were children and adolescent.

Child abuse in Jamaica appears to be escalating at a very rapid pace. According to the OCR, crime against children is escalating at an unbelievable rate. Take for instance, in 2007, there were 425 reported cases of child abuse, in 2008 that number jumped to 3, 784. This alarming trend is frightening. In her article “Dark Days for Jamaican Children,” Marvia shared with her readers how she wept while writing the article on the plight of our children. She is not alone.

Sadly, these poor Jamaican kids do not seem to have anyone/group advocating aggressively enough to effect change on their behalf, hence the escalation in crimes against them over the past few years.

The demonic beasts that are responsible for committing these horrific crimes against our most vulnerable are exactly that – ‘Demons.’ Most Jamaicans will agree on that. The more troubling question however, is this; why isn’t there more of an outcry from the Jamaican people nationally?

Who is really advocating on behalf of these poor souls? What is being done and will be done to curve the brutality against our children? When will it end? What implications will this abuse of our young have on the future Jamaica?

The Jamaican government and in particular the minister of youth need to be deeply involved whether its forming a task force to investigate the dept of the problem and realize the incidence of child abuse per capita and advocating for funds to help to tackle the problem.

Ensuring an adequate budget allotment for dealing with these issues of child abuse should be a priority for the minister of youth. There is a need for tougher and enforceable laws to punish these heartless perpetrators. The public needs to be held accountable, anyone who witness child abuse and fail to report it should be punished. The Child Care and Protection Act makes it mandatory for persons who suspect child abuse to make a report to state agencies. Protecting children from harm is not an individual responsibility, but a societal one. We need to emulate thy brother’s keeper attitude in particular when it comes to protecting our most precious but yet most vulnerable, our children.