Child molestation needs to be addressed
Kaieteur News
January 9, 2007

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The seeming increase in the number of young girls being seduced and impregnated is reaching alarming proportions, to the extent that the authorities need to take drastic action.

Some of the young mothers are no better than children themselves, particularly the 13-year-old whose baby was reportedly stolen recently.

And during the past week there was the case of a sexually active 11-year-old who has since been placed into the custody of an organisation for girls.

In most of the cases the perpetrators are grown men, some of them with wives. Some are fathers and many of these young girls are younger than their own daughters. In some cases, fathers actually molest their own daughters and one must now wonder whether morality has gone through the window.

The association of grown men and young girls is nothing new. In the olden days when mothers did everything to prevent illegitimate children they would seek to marry off their young daughters soon after they attained the age of puberty. This was particularly true among the descendants of Indian immigrants.

In fact, this was what caused the authorities to lower the age of consent to 13 during the colonial era. This law continued in effect until recently when the story of a young girl and a grown man gripped the nation and sparked massive protests.

In the end, the government after consultations with social groups and organisations raised the age of consent to 16. But there were those who tried their utmost to have the age raised to 18 when a person is legally an adult.

In some cases mothers are to blame for this. Given their economic situation many simply turn their young daughters loose, urging them to make their own money and to fend for themselves.

This is one of the areas that the authorities need to examine. We seem to be reluctant to prosecute parents who are found wanting in the rearing of their children. We have had mothers whose young sons have been known to commit serious crimes and instead of the courts targeting the parents the authorities often seek to punish the young criminal.

The age of puberty is often a period of confusion. It is a time when the body is adjusting from childhood to the reproductive years. It is a time when previously unknown emotions surface. Many simply do not know how to cope with these emotions and so they experiment. For young boys, the experiment sometimes borders on homosexuality and prostitution, but for young girls it could have dire consequences.

The emotion that is often mistaken for love sends the young girls to people whom they need to trust. They seek out people who are either their fathers or grown men who seem to be father figures. It is here that the young girl is prone to the abusers because the men take advantage of their confusion and their trust.

Just this past week the case of an eleven-year-old came to the fore. This child claimed that she was a victim of abuse ever since she was nine years old. Certainly her abusers must have known that she was very young and incapable of adult thoughts, but that seems to trigger the predatory nature of the abuser.

The laws are deficient with regard to the sexual abuse of young girls. Further, many parents are often quick to accept an offer of compensation, then go to the court and decline to offer prosecution.

As they stand there is nothing that the legal system could do in the event that parents decline to offer prosecution. This needs to be changed and we would expect that the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security would move with haste in this direction.

Our very young women need not be protected. Some, because of their pecuniary situation, are prey to the predators. They would easily become victims of sexual abuse because of need.

In some countries, the laws are strict as these relate to child molesters. Some men are castrated, some are made to wear a sign indicating that they are child molesters and they all get long jail terms.

Guyana may need to consider such actions.