Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 10th 2014 Contents A13
Saturday, May 10, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Child sexual abuse is rampant in
But while it is undetected and under-
reported in many instances, officials
are hoping that through public educa-
tion campaigns and increased aware-
ness, victims will come forward.
Dr Sandra Reid of the Institute for
Gender and Development Studies of
the University of the West Indies says
a study done between 2008 and 2011
found that socio-cultural, economic
and gender ideologies in communities
affected by child sexual abuse and child-
hood incest protected the perpetrators
of these acts.
Reid made the statement during a
workshop titled Break The Silence,
hosted by the Ministry of Gender,
Youth and Child Development along
with the United Nations Children s
Fund, at The Normandie, St Ann s,
Reid said during a six-month period
in 2006, 165 cases of child sexual
abuse were reported to police. Of that
number, 85 per cent related to viola-
tions of girls, of which 16 per cent
were cases of incest.
Delivering the feature address, act-
ing Deputy Permanent Secretary Jas-
mine Pascal said the aim of the cam-
paign was to create awareness about
child sexual abuse, incest and
HIV/Aids, as well as educating people
about existing resources for preventing
and responding to child sexual abuse
Yesterday s workshop was the second
such one organised by the ministry to
educate stakeholders and the public
on child sexual abuse.
Pascal said: "The naked truth is, if
we are to save our innocents, we must
assiduously work together."
Adding that it was sometimes dis-
heartening and overwhelming, Pascal
added that this was "frightening proof
of the absence of information on the
part of the children, their parents and
Promising that government had
embarked on an aggressive media cam-
paign, she warned of the severe penal-
ties for anyone found guilty of such
Seeking to partner with the media
to encourage awareness, Pascal said a
range of initiatives providing support
to children had been embarked upon.
These include legislation promoting
the rights of children, including the
Children Act, 2012; the Children s
Authority Act and the Children s Com-
munity Residences, Foster Care and
Nurseries Act, 2000.
Hopeful that the Children s Author-
ity Act is fully operational by Septem-
ber 2014, Pascal revealed the authority
had already started recruiting. Other
initiatives include free counselling for
children and families provided by the
National Family Services Division.
The ministry is also partnering with
first responders such as ChildLine and
the police Victim and Witness Support
Unit, and also employing more social
workers and support staff.
Its National Parenting Programme
seeks to train parents, parents to be,
guardians, adoptive parents and other
caregivers in effective ways of caring.
It started in April in Moruga/Table-
land, Siparia, Chaguanas and Maloney.
An attempt to transform T&T will
begin today starting with a march
around the Queen s Park Savannah at
And it is hoped that the transfor-
mation will continue into homes,
schools, businesses and communities.
According to Transform T&T (TTT)
founder Dianne Hunt, this is the start
of something new.
Hunt said: "TTT is everybody in T&T
and is every person who lives here. It
is just one person taking the initiative."
She said the group, which is yet to
be registered, was created after speaking
with friends, family and even strangers
who have become disheartened by the
turmoil and helplessness currently
plaguing the country.
Hunt said rather than focus on the
problem, she opted to find a solution.
This began with her urging people
to visualise a better T&T, which would
lead to a better quality of life.
Saying it was a matter of quantum
physics, Hunt said it was a proven fact
that whatever is put out by a person,
so too shall it be reflected.
"Thoughts are energy and can mate-
rialise," she said, adding, "We must
plant the seed of what we want."
Hunt said the theme to wear white
was because: "White is light and reflec-
tive, and we will be bringing love in a
group to my country."
Believing that any small act of kind-
ness could start the transformation,
Hunt stressed that the march was "not
to chastise anyone, but us exercising
our right to freedom, peace and pros-
She said while it was advertised via
social media site Facebook and word
of mouth, she deliberately stayed away
from politicising the event, as the aim
was to improve the lives of the citizen-
ry.She is ready and willing to welcome
the presence of friends, family, laymen,
activists and politicians.
Hunt, a designer and business-
woman, is the sister of former PNM
MP Gary Hunt.
Adding, "There is a lot of spiritual
growing that needs to take place in
T&T," Hunt urged everyone to reassess
themselves and their purpose, as she
believes truthful answers can bring
about a better country.
With nothing special planned for
after the march, Hunt promised more
exciting ventures from TTT for the
Unwilling to reveal any of the details,
she said: "We are starting a revolution
of light and love." (ALP)
Participants at the Break the Silence capacity building workshop for media practitioners at The Normandie,
St Ann's, yesterday. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
Public campaign to
curb child sex abuse
March to transform country on today
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