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Child sex offenders going unpunished

Thursday, April 26, 2018
Prof Reddock at symposium on abuse:
Professor Rhoda Reddock, left, acknolowdges a member of the audience during the Symposium yesterday. At right is clinical psychologist Nirvana Maharaj. PICTURE RALPH BANWARIE

Child sexual abuse is prevalent and common in several communities with many of the offenders going unpunished for their crimes, according to Prof Rhoda Reddock of the University of the West Indies.

Reddock was speaking yesterday at the Break the Silence (BTS): Educators and Child Sexual Abuse symposium at the School of Education Auditorium, UWI in St Augustine campus.

The symposium was held in collaboration with the School of Education Library, the Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS) and the University of The West Indies (UWI) in St Augustine campus.

She said the project was researched between 2008 and 2011.

“Stakeholders reported that child sexual abuse/incest to be prevalent and common in some communities and prevalent everywhere. It just existed and was never discussed,” she said.

She said research revealed that after the crime the perpetrators continued to live their lives as normal in society.

“We noted the ages of prevalence and they were younger for women than men.”

Reddock said the research was to understand how the act was rationalised and justified.

“I believe there has been a consistent problem of under-reporting and I believe that is still the case,” she said.

Referring to report, carried in 2013, in which Magaret Sampson-Browne, then head of the TTPS’ Victim and Witness Support Unit, stated that there were 200 cases of incest, rape, and sexual abuse in Central Trinidad.

“Now if you take the entire country how much this would be?” she asked.

Reddock said in a 2016 report by the Children’s Authority close to 25 per cent were of sexual abuse to a female.

“One of the key findings is that sexual relations between older men and young under-age girls were common.”

She said the onus was not on men to refuse but women/girls to not be available.

Reddock said several phrases which were reported by men to be: “I not feeding any cow for anyone else to drink milk. After eight is breakfast, after nine is mine and after 12 is lunch.”

She said there were many key findings such as a lack of safe spaces, support systems were non-existent at the time, minors could not report abuse without an adult and psycho-social support was necessary for survivors.

Clinical psychologist Dr Nirvana Maharaj said there were many indicators that would raise red flags of abused children.

“The peak age of vulnerability is between seven and 13 years because grooming is easiest at this stage and accessible for relatives.”

Maharaj said 90 per cent of the attackers are known to the child and it is people that they know.

She said there were many effects the victims would display such as inappropriate emotional experience, heightened levels of anxiety, maintaining the secret, anger and emotional constriction.

“Withdrawal from normal activities, suicidal pre-occupation, self-destructive behaviours and risk-taking behaviour, early substance use and criminal behaviour and modification of sexual thoughts,” she said.

Maharaj said teachers should make a significant impact on the safety of their students.


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