The Child Care and Protection Agency (CC&PA) will be launching advertisements in four different Amerindian languages as early as next month, during the observance of Child Protection Week as it seeks to up the fight against the alarming rates of child abuse cases in the hinterland region.
According to Director of the Agency, Ann Greene, the rates of child abuse in Amerindian villages are alarmingly high. In fact, she said most of the 481 cases of child sexual abuse occurred in Regions 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) and Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni).
She explained, “The most challenging thing for us is this sexual abuse in Hinterland communities. If you look at the stats, our data shows out of the 481 (cases of sexual abuse) the rate of abuse is highest in Region 10 followed by Region Seven so we want to concentrate heavily on that in our programmes”.
Greene said she is aware that in some communities, under-aged sexual activities are accepted, although it is against the law.
“There is a gap between culture and law. There are some things that are social norms and cultural practices but it’s not in keeping with the laws of the land… in some communities there is a high tolerance level for under-aged sexual activities. Sixteen years is the age of consent, but it doesn’t say that grown men should be having sex with 16-year-olds. They may be paedophiles,” she pointed out.
Important to note, the Director said, is the laws of Guyana were not only crafted for the children on the coast, but also for those in the hinterland regions.
She added, “So we can’t hear people (are) getting charged here (on the coasts) for various acts and (in) another group things are happening there and nothing is not happening”.
The Agency, according to her, has been exhausting several efforts to educate and re-educate citizens on the issue of cultural practices. She said, although persons are entitled to their culture, the practices put children at risk.
This year’s Child Protection Week will commence on September 23 under the theme ‘Supporting families to prevent child abuse through education and community involvement’.
Several other major activities and programmes are being finalised and prepared for the much anticipated event. Among the major plans, the CC&PA will be launching its child abuse registry, which will be helpful in providing information in relation to a person’s biography.