PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago has denied media reports that it failed to respond to a report of a child being used as a sex slave.
In a brief statement, the authority confirmed that initial reports were made to its hotline about the child, but these did not identify any concerns of child sexual abuse.
“However, once that concern was identified following receipt of a media report yesterday, the authority’s emergency response team (ERT) was dispatched to investigate the new allegations made to the media.
“The authority has found child protection concerns and is taking steps to immediately address those concerns and ensure the child’s safety,” it said in the statement.
Media reports had indicated that the eight-year-old child was a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a male relative.
The Trinidad Guardian newspaper quoting family sources said that the child had been exposed to pornography, prostitution and sexual debauchery by the male relative.
“The child goes down on her knees and begs to be taken out of there, but I am not her guardian so I cannot take her,” the source told the newspaper adding that the child had been abandoned by her mother in 2009 shortly after her birth.
“She and her husband does not consider her as their daughter because she is mixed so they just left her there with the grandmother and went on with their lives.”
In the statement, the Children’s Authority urged the public to report all suspicions or incidents of abuse to our Hotline … as our intervention can only be initiated once a report is made”.
It reminded the public that under the Children Act, 2012, the authority is mandated to investigate all reports of abuse.
“Once a report of child abuse or mistreatment is brought to the authority’s attention, the investigation process is initiated to substantiate or not substantiate the allegations with a view to determining whether the child is in need of care and protection and what interventions would be appropriate in the child’s best interest,” the statement added.
Reports of 8-y-o used as sex slave in T&T March 03, 2017
A medical examination conducted on an eight-year-old girl who was rescued from a seaside house by the Children’s Authority of T&T, has confirmed she was sexually assaulted over a period of time. The girl, who gave a statement to officials from the Child Protection Unit, admitted to being molested by a relative several times over the past year.
Over the past two years, the girl, who is in Standard Two, had been begging to leave the house which she occupied with her grandmother and uncle.
Police are now searching for a main suspect after questioning another man in connection with the case.
In an interview yesterday, however, the child’s grandmother, who suffers from arthritis, claimed she did not know the girl was being molested. She said the child never told her about the assaults, although she asked the child several times if she was the victim of sexual assault. Asked why she raised such concerns with the child in the first place, the grandmother said the alleged child molester had interfered with three of her female relatives several years ago, so she had some suspicions. Pressed as to why she allowed a known child molester to be around her granddaughter, the grandmother responded, “I thought he was over that.”
She also said the Child Protection Unit sent to child to stay with another relative rather than put her in a safe house. However, that relative has since indicated she cannot keep the child for a lengthy period. The girl’s mother, who abandoned her in 2009 a day after her birth, was also contacted by the authority.
A source, who requested anonymity, said she was concerned about why the authority did not place the child in a safe house.
“Why would they want to put her in the care of a (...relative) who does not have the means to care for her? Even worse, why would the authority contact the child’s mother, who obviously never wanted her...?” the source asked.
The Children’s Authority was galvanised into action on Thursday when the T&T Guardian exclusively highlighted the child’s plight.
The child and an 18-year-old woman were removed from the house by the authority.
The teenager, who reportedly complained about physical abuse at the hands of a relative, was sent to a safe house.
The authority had received a complaint about the child since January 14, but it was only on Thursday that officials visited the house and found violations. But communications manager Cheryl-Ann Moses said at the time the initial report was made there was no complaint of sexual molestation. This, however, was denied by a source close to the family.
Under the Sexual Offences Act, an adult who fails to report a case of child molestation is subject to criminal prosecution.
Contacted yesterday, chairman of the Children’s Authority Stephanie Daly said she could not respond to questions about the case because of confidentiality restrictions. An email was also sent to Moses but there was no response.
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