By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. May 6, 2021: The COVID-19 pandemic has reportedly increased the cases of transactional sex been older men and underage teenage girls in Jamaica, a new study says.

‘The Stress Test: The Impact of the Pandemic on Domestic and Community Violence,’ produced by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI), with the support of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA), was conducted in 47 of the poorest and most violent communities in Jamaica.

According lead researcher, Jenny Jones, who recently shared the findings, said young teenage girls, between 12 and 15 years old are being offered to older men for money by their stepfathers and boys.

Jones said that due to loss of regular income, many persons have sought alternative sources of income, and with this came a noticeable increase in acceptance of transactional sex arrangements.

“The widespread acceptance of transactional sex between older men and younger girls. This is underage girls we are talking about – 12, 13, 14, 15 years old. Some not even out of grade six in primary school,” Jones disclosed. “Once there is (a) so-called consent agreement, (which) in some cases this consent may be more from the family, many in the community see nothing wrong with this.”

The report states: “Sexual abuse of underage girls from 12 years up by older men, in a situation of transactional sex, is openly accepted in communities. It is a source of income and families often turn a blind eye. While in the first stages of the lockdown this type of sexual abuse might have reduced, since persons were staying indoors most of the time, by the post-Emancipation independence period it was not only back to normal but had almost certainly increased.”

She also said that the older men see this as helping poor families and there is no thought that the young teen is not only legally not capable of consent, but also is being emotional and psychological damaged.

In sharing details from an interview with a man from a semi-rural community in the Corporate Area, she outlined the realities of transactional sex as seen through his eyes.

“This is what one man from a semi-rural community in Kingston (the Corporate Area) reported: ‘Professional man, big man, some man weh yuh wouldn’t even tink in a dem tings yah, a have sex with underage children in the community. Is a big problem in this community’,” Jones shared.

To deal with the situation and others highlighted in the study, CAPRI is recommending that the Jamaican Government provides basic training to public sector medical personnel and the police to identify non-verbal signs of abuse of women and children. The institute is also calling for more social workers to be employed to assist more communities.

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