[www.inewsguyana.com] – Member of the Guyana Women Miners Association, Stephanie Miguel is calling for permanent Welfare, Child Protection and Probation officers in Port Kaituma, Baramita and other areas within the Matarkai Sub-Region to effectively tackle the issue of child exploitation.
According to Miguel, while the Association receives the support of the police, more measures are needed to deal with the issue. Miguel has been working in the Port Kaituma area for the past year and for her, the biggest concern is trafficking in persons.
“All the calls come to me and I try my best, the police support me because I go there and I make complaints and they help by going into the Backdam where we find a 12 – year – old girl pregnant and there is a lot of advantage taking place there but no representation for those children,” Miguel said.
She and her team came across children below the age of 11 sleeping on the road all night. In those cases, the Association collaborates with the relevant government agencies to take care of the children.
According to her, there are many children who sleep on the road in an area called ‘Golden City’ and there is no immediate mechanism to bring the parents to answer to any authority in the district.
She said that it is the intention of the Association to see some parents charged for knowingly allowing their children to have a street and club presence. In this regard, Miguel pointed to a case of a 7 – year – old girl who had a hickey on her neck.
“A 7 – year – old with a hickey on her neck is bad and disturbing for me and this organization; this area has been condemned during the life of the previous government. I see nothing that they did in here, there is a place called Canal Bank and that is another area where which has more than 900 people living.”
The issue of domestic violence is also an issue for the Association, along with protecting the rights of children.
On the issue of teenage pregnancy, Miguel said that the cases might have been far lower if there were welfare, probation and child protection officers in the area.
“They get involved because they are not properly educated; at the school there is a high rate of school dropouts and parents are the ones who ought to be blamed too. Because of the poverty in Port Kaituma the children who use to work the mines every now and then to earn a small piece are now looking to get involved with the big businessmen for money, especially the girls.”