|Children forced to have sex with dogs |
By COREY CONNELLY Thursday, May 24 2012
click on pic to zoom in
Spirit-filled: Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development Verna St Rose-Greaves gives a spirit-filled plea for abused children during debate in t...
As if moved by the spirit, her voice cracking, Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development Verna St Rose-Greaves yesterday jumped around her seat in frustration in the Senate as she lamented the sexual abuse that has been meted out to children in this country over the years.
Winding up debate on the Children Bill in the Upper House, St Rose-Greaves, a career social worker, delivered a passionate and, at times, emotional contribution, in which she pointed out that society was still uncomfortable in tackling issues relating to sex education in the nation’s schools.
She also lamented that too much time had been spent in the past arguing over superficial matters relating to the passage of the legislation.
“The reason this legislation has not gone forward before is because we spend so much time over the years arguing about crossing “T’s” and dotting “I’s” or which government will bring it in and which government will not bring it in and meanwhile our children, our children, our children...”
St Rose-Greaves declared, jumping around her seat, as if in the spirit, then later calling for forgiveness from Senate vice-president Lyndira Oudit.
Regaining her composure, St Rose-Greaves also bemoaned the lack of political will of previous administrations in pushing for comprehensive legislation to combat child abuse in its various manifestations.
The minister caused a hush in the Upper House as she recounted episodes of chronic child abuse, which she had learnt of during her years as a social worker.
She said bestiality, which many believe to be a foreign concept, was occurring in at least one childrens’ home in Trinidad and Tobago.
“It is not outside. It is right here,” she told senators.
“There is a children’s home in this country where there was a pack of 12 dogs that the staffers used to sit and watch the children have sex with them. Don’t tell me about outside and what is happening outside. We have it right here and we have to start to hold up the mirrors to ourselves to understand.”
She also recalled the abuse which had been inflicted upon a teenage Guyanese girl, seeking a better life in this country. The girl’s sister had been sexually abused by their father.
“I know of a 15-year-old Guyanese girl who was brought to this country. She was taken from her mother in Guyana because her two sisters had already fallen victim to incest and her mother wanted to save her,” St Rose-Greaves recalled.
“And a woman of money in this country took that child and brought her into her house promising to help her, brought her to clean and help around the house. But that woman had a son who was mentally and physically challenged and the little girl thought that she was coming to clean, but her services included having sex with that young man.”
She added, “When the child needed to go back home, her mother could not take her back home because she did not want her to have sex with her father. She (the girl’s mother) had to balance, which is worse, having sex with your father or having sex with a stranger, even though it is not of your own free will.”
St Rose-Greaves said women and mothers were often faced with making such tough choices for the benefit of their children and called for a greater understanding of the problems with which many of them are confronted.
“Those are the choices mothers have to make sometimes. We have to be easier on mothers. We can all run our mouths,” she said.
“We beat up on women and mothers and don’t take time to understand the difficult situation that women are in. How do you make peace that one mother felt that to take care of the needs of her child, you had to abuse the rights of someone else’s.”
Earlier in her contribution, the minister made it clear that she did not enter politics for fame, status, personal gain or to be on anybody’s “social list”.
“I am here because of the legislation which needs to be done for the children,” she said, recalling that she has been referred to as a “mad woman with the bell” (in reference to her personal crusades for justice for children).
“I have taken a beating and bullying because this has to happen.”
St Rose-Greaves said many people in the society were also guilty of passing on information to the relevant authorities on alleged victims of abuse.
“We sit next to people who do these things to children but turn a blind eye. People abuse workers, children, wives and we stay silent because it is not our business,” she said.
The Senate broke into committee stage and up to press time were deliberating on more than 100 amendments to the bill.