BY R.D. Miller
While you were preoccupied.
Many articles and images ranged from terrorist attacks in France, Kuwait, and Tunisia, where over 30 British citizens were killed, Greece’s financial pressure that threatens the international economy to Puerto Rico’s efforts to pay a reported 72 billion in debt and it is still mid year.
While those stories gave many of us pause, the Confederate Flag debate reactivated about what it represents on both sides’ with strong opinions. Should it remain flying in our history, or be removed after a White supremacist teen gunned down nine African Americans at a prayer meeting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the South to start a race war.
One the other side of the pulpit, many evangelists fought with the modern era of same-sex marriage decisions regarding equality. There were also bets on the speed at which the Jamaican track star Usain Bolt will run this year. While society grapples with these socioeconomic, discrimination, crime, justice and sometimes fun stories, that can change the course of a nation or a community we carry on regardless of locations, and these issues quickly dissolved or forgotten.
What stuck with me most in these news cycles was a four-minute video. This video reverberates another dark side in our society’s backyards, that often gets washed out to the sea like debris after a storm, but keep coming back more and more, and before you complete this article, there will be another case like this.
Her story is one of many::
I watched in horror an undercover operation where a 13-year-old schoolgirl was being sold by her uncle for cash in Kingston, Jamaica, to a Caucasian male who posed as a tourist being sold for sex by her uncle. Even though he was arrested, this event will have negative psychological consequences long-term.
It is an emotional ongoing anguish that diminishes her assertiveness to gain back courage, confidence, resilience, and beauty. But it opens the door to this hidden world, where many communities are helpless or stays silent from fear and the lack of resources to combat these atrocities.
Even more problematic ones who are targeted because of their sexual orientation and the re-victimization attitude by some, as if they had it coming.
Often in our society, conversations on these cases begin with the interrogation of the victim.
“She could have run out of the situation or nothing happened to her.”
She was too easy and dressed provocatively
What caused her to be abused?….. Why didn’t she leave?
But no one ever asked him in jail, at school, church, or in the community; Why he targeted her?
How many children before her have gone missing, abused, or murdered, and those stories remain unsolved?
Sometimes a family member knows the truth, but because of fear of vigilante justice, will remain silent or to protect the perpetrator. Sadly, the silence and these unresolved cases hoping that with time it will go away does not make the local community safer. As many experts noted, it causes more pain and revictimization to the family who continues to seek closure.
These sexual assaults, statutory rape normally linked to a broader network, kidnapping and human trafficking. Perpetrators often disguise themselves as normal. They are on your public bus, taxis, drive fine vehicles, or in your church choir, some may preach to you this Sunday, or whatever day you worship.
They live upstairs, may share your borderline, and fit in like a pleasant neighbor. They are also a family member, guardian, schoolteacher, and even a representative sworn to protect gained your trust and exert their power to abuse. In some cases, they could be suffering from a mental illness disease or simply a pimp gone undetected.
It is a complex business of sick individuals, but as experts have noted, a parent or caregiver, whether through action or failing to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm, or risk of serious harm to a child is simply child abuse.
These serial predators are charismatic, pray on your daughters and use the argument that they are not loved, your daddy hates you and that is why he molested you, and your mother allowed it to happen. In addition, they will target foster homes, and offered gifts.
Sadly, having pedophiles, serial predators and pimps roaming local streets grooming your sons and daughters to satisfy their behavior, often goes undetected. They will use the victim’s economic needs, poverty, homelessness, drugs, and/or alcohol abuse, family conflict, or runaways as a platform. Additionally, offer to pay tuition fees, purchase school supplies, candy, meals, and shopping spree or a ride in a nice vehicle.
This very day I wonder if an Anosognosia condition is taking place along these shores. How often are adolescent students lured into dark tinted vehicles, parked a few blocks from these high schools, and universities by older men?
To eliminate students’ risk there should be laws eliminating 100 percent black tinted vehicle windows, and safety pick up and drop-off zone including public areas for students, and well-lit areas less susceptible to crime than dark places.
In this era of technology, these areas should have public cameras, and tracking devices on these commercial vehicles. They need a massive campaign to inform students to bypass these vehicles regardless of how quickly it may get to their destinations, and perhaps restrictive school buses alone.
The innocent victim rage from the age of 10 when they are targeted. It starts with a simple compliment, then creates confusion, following the victim while mixing as though they are together after analyzing their routes, needs and vulnerability.
Very often it seems onlookers contemplate safety, their pride, lack of protection if they speak up regarding underage students being lowered into these vehicles, and many of whom believe they are legitimately licensed operators. This is statutory rape, and without enforcement and sharp penalties, it leads to speculation if she accepted the invitation willingly, and that mentality is minimization.
Cultural traits, taboos, societal norms, and expectations about sexual behavior that force silence must to be debunked. We cannot continue to be detached because of the location, shame and image. They must meet sexual assault, unwanted calling, touching, hostile environment and the objectification of these young students with more strict rules and swift penalties to send a strong statement. Today, a mother sends a child to school, the public library or the grocery store and lives in fear until she gets back.
This is not about blaming anyone system but highlighting the need to invest more time and resources to disrupt these operations. Also, acknowledge that you have a systemic problem and develop rules to help these ill sex offenders who prey on your sons and daughters.
While the data shows that someone disappears every 90 seconds, in most parts of the world a missing person will be located quickly. In Jamaica, the number of missing children in 2015 is estimated at 1984, according to the Jamaican Children’s Registration Office. It is a public health crisis when one compares the size of the population to other nations.
The other dark side are the serious mental predators who will go all the way to satisfy the intense and sexually exciting fantasies. It is not necessarily that an argument from the victim’s refusal, which has resulted in the death of a student, it is part of the sexual satisfaction of the offender.
Some other predictors claim that the lack of resources and opportunity breeds an attraction, like any other illegal activity. This is not an excuse, but this difficult economic situation creates a perfect opportunity that they can generate quick cash at the expense of a women’s body and can help these women out of a dark financial situation.
About 800,000 women and children are trafficked each year across international borders. Studies have shown that over 90 percent work for pimps.
Sexual trafficking of minors is not only a South East Asia problem, as many often believed. Customers no longer have to visit Nepal, India Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines, or even Western Europe like Bulgaria, where sex trafficking and exploitation remains a severe problem according to the expert. It can be uncovered in your home .
These traffickers and sexual predators will befriend your family and offer more quality life, and later sold your kids into slave labor and prostitution. Many studies have shown that less than one percent of these cases end in prosecution. These victims who escape normally do not have a voice and need a safe place to talk about their experiences without being stigmatized.
Several reports have additionally noted that the Caribbean region has become an exotic spot for nefarious reasons regarding sex trafficking underground world tourism, both imported and exported.
The perception that all visitors arrive only just for relaxation and the good vibes on these islands offer is a farfetched idea. This incident only highlights that sexual assaults, statuary rape, and the exploitation of adolescent girls and boys presents an urgent problem and, for a price, you have an abundance of sellers and buyers.
This is global, but the same local mindset.
Sadly, in 2014, Boko Haram one of Nigeria’s most dangerous militant groups abducted over 270 schoolgirls from Chibok. Several of these girls never returned to their homes. And while our routine lives continues, there will be more missing boys, and girls.
Though Boko mentality has not marched into a classroom or a church in the Caribbean region, wielding a weapon, kidnapping girls and boys, and fleeing for a jungle or hills. The report does not confirm that this is unique and exclusively a Nigerian issue.
There are ongoing local headlines, and I stop counting new cases on these shores of a beloved daughter, cousin, niece, aunt, or a sister being kidnapped, assaulted, and murdered while families hopelessly searching for answers. Many of these cases are now in a holding file somewhere or considered close because, every day that passes, the chance to solve these crimes becomes slim.
Economics and Laws:
Many crime experts label sexual exploitation as an organized crime business, where profits are high and risks are low. It is an estimated $5 16-billion a-year operation from Latin America to these Caribbean shores and rising according to the International Organization for Migration.
(Reuters) 2015, over 1,100 arrested in a nationwide sweep for allegedly praying on kids according to reports. They each use the internet to lure youths and then traffic them into commercial sex. Among the people arrested in Texas were former employees of the Boys and Girls club and soldiers.
(BBC News) around the same time, about 37 arrested in Oxford in what they believed was part of organized crime selling young girls for sex.
How can the authorities provide communities with a sense of safety if these crimes are not resolved at a high rate? Often, these your girls are scared to come forward because they operate on the heading that “Stitches get stitches.” Simply put, if they speak up they will be harmed.
Wherever you have a substantial number of missing young-girls, sexual assaults, experts noted will have a high concentration of sexual predators grooming for human trafficking, and other local exploitation. They are hard to detect in these communities unless you maintain a general registry. They frequently target both local and international students and any soft targets.
Managing this hidden public risk:
The risk factors that can lead to exploitation are running away, or supporting friends in prostitution, neglect and abuse in their homes. Many victims started from a mutual relationship.
In many poor and developing nations, disparities between the haves vs have-nots and lack of resources make it difficult to prosecute despite both national and international laws.
Even if a country accepts legalized prostitution, some argue that it is less likely to have a severe punishment. But it does not minimize the risk these teens face. Deterrence tools are vital to prohibit visitors from an open door system that allows teenagers to visit their hotel rooms and be traded as if they are a commodity on the stock exchange.
Saying she asked for it, is not a solution, or who “should have” and “perhaps” is not a strategy. They are victims, and it is important that these communities have the resources to support without being re-victimized.
These sex offenders will not age out, but with proper treatment and close monitoring, the community can minimize risk to public safety.
These offenders must be tagged and their names must be made public when convicted. If one moves to your neighborhood, potential victims are aware or even when they seek employment. It ensures national awareness for families who are at considerable risk. Coordination and sharing of information among professionals who are advocates for these victims are key to combating these problems.
This is a complex matter where it often bounces between rape and consent, but it is simply a crime and silence cannot address this issue. This involves taking a holistic approach to treatment of offenders, ranging from psychosexual assessment for treatment and public risk assessment.
It is time to re-gather because silence is often deafening:
The responsibility to protect these adolescent girls and boys; notably high school and universities; yes, on the job. These communities from the house next door, pulpit to the hotels must report suspicious activities.
Of course, there will be another public statement from your elected officials when these atrocities take place, but little or no assistance for the victims and their families long-term. While the lack of resources and sometimes technical expertise remains an impediment, it is essential to hold elected officials and law enforcement officers who are sworn to protect them accountable to solve these cases.
The community support is critical for those who are ashamed and unwilling to come forward for fear of personal consequences who may have information. If many can mobilize when dance-hall superstar artist Vybz Kartel was sentenced to life for murder, or any other lawbreakers when they received justice, march against same-sex marriage equality, or an officer’s bad judgment, campaign for politicians for days, these same communities anywhere can mobilize to save these children from criminal acts.
Soon various politicians will wear their political party colors to become the subsequent leader; one wonders who will wear at least one exploited victim murdered or assaulted on their clothing and how many will stay mute on this missing outrage because this cycle will continue until the next headline.