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VIDEO: Sexually abused while under 16 years?

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY Observer senior reporter dunkleya@jamaicaobserver.com
Tuesday, May 15, 2012


THE police's Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) says victims of sexual abuse, some dating back to two decades, have been coming forward to make reports because of increased confidence in the systems now in place to deal with perpetrators.

"We have cases dating back 19 to 20 years, but the point is that these are cases we can prove easily in the sense that once you can establish the date, especially the ones (victims) who were under 16 years of age (at the time of the incident)," head of CISOCA, Superintendent Gladys Brown told yesterday's weekly Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange at the newspaper's head office in Kingston.

"Persons are coming in with old cases, in some instances persons didn't know what to do. In cases they were afraid because they were threatened especially with the incest matters; persons are coming out from behind the shroud of silence. Now mothers who are not so dependent on these men anymore are coming forward. We are happy to have them, it's overwhelming, it's killing us at CISOCA but we are happy to see that persons are comfortable coming to CISOCA," Brown told reporters and editors.

The CISOCA head, who took up the mantle on September 26 last year, said she has confidence in the integrity of the system to successfully pursue and prosecute these cases.

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"In some of the cases the victim would have gotten pregnant, so that is evidence enough. We would probably do the DNA to establish paternity, so even if the man says he is not guilty the end product — which is the child — would be there to prove. In a lot of cases we have the first complainant, the person the victim would have confided in immediately after the incident, and in some cases it's more than one person; so they would be prepared to give evidence," she continued.

Brown said the difficulty was whether persons would backtrack after the opening of cases. "Where we have the challenge is that sometimes they start and they will come back and say' I have changed my mind because it's my babyfather', sometimes they disappear so the case gets thrown out and we can't find them," she told the Observer.

In the meantime, she said rather than an increase in the number of incidents what was being experienced was an increase in the reporting of sexual offences, including incest.

"What we have is a situation where persons are becoming more confident in the system... so we also find an increase in the reporting of sexual offences dating back possibly to two years. So, for example, we would have had say 30 reports last week, and of that number only 10 would have taken place this year. The rest would have taken place last year or the year before," she explained.

She said, however, that there has been an increase in the number of men having sex with girls under 16 years of age (carnal abuse), but said those figures were in the custody of the government statistics department.

"Most of the cases we get are about girls, men having sex with girls under 16, that's where the increase is. We have a lot of cases where young girls are having relationships with men who are 50, 57 years of age. We have 12-year-old, 13-year-old, 14-year-old, 15-year-old girls who are in relationships with big men; a number of them are responsible businessmen, responsible members of society and respected members of the public," Brown said.

Surprisingly, she said parents were often not the ones to break the news and were the "last to know in a lot of cases".

"What we have are guidance counsellors coming forward to make the reports, you have nosey neighbours, or people we call nosey neighbours, but they are the responsible adults of society who are making it their business to say 'I just saw a young lady in a school uniform going into a house on my avenue and I am concerned' and we will just call the police in the area and they will go and find the young girl with a change of clothing, and in most cases these are not young boys," the CISOCA head pointed out.

Yesterday, Superintendent Brown said she was in anticipation of the promised amendments to the Evidence Act which would allow for testimony by video link from children in court. The legislation, she said, should help the agency even further. "It will be useful in that children are traumatised after being abused and their memories are very short, and so it will enable the taking of one statement for all the entities. We are awaiting that Act," Brown said.

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