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13-year-old North-West mother, baby pulled from abusive home

MEDICAL authorities in the city are monitoring the condition of a 13-year-old girl who delivered a baby 10 days ago at a remote North-West District community, and a 12-year-old girl from the same location who is in an advanced stage of pregnancy is also being closely monitored.

The girls were rescued by members of the Guyana Women Miners Organisation (GWMO) on Friday. According to the GWMO, once it received reports about the raping of the girls, it immediately dispatched its Regional Coordinator to the remote location, situated some six hours by road farther inland from a prominent North-West District community.

Both girls were allegedly sexually assaulted by a relative, and it was later discovered that they were pregnant. One of the girls is said to be the daughter of a woman who died last October after being allegedly raped and beaten by her husband at the Region One location.

GWMO head, Urica Primus, told this newspaper yesterday that a team from the organisation returned to the area in search of a 10-year-old sister of the rescued 12-year-old girl, and is also trying to ascertain the whereabouts of other siblings of the girls.

Primus said Divisional Commander Rabindranath Budhram has been informed of the situation, and he has given his support to the team’s mission. To this end, police officers stationed at a Region One mining community were expected to accompany the GWMO team on its lengthy trip.

Speaking about the rescue of the two girls, Primus explained that the organisation responded to a report from a resident of the community, and persons in the region were immediately mobilised. She said the team left its base on Friday morning for the journey. After finding the girls, the team took them out of their home and returned to its base on Friday evening. The girls were immediately taken to the nearby hospital for medical attention.

The girls and the baby were subsequently flown to the capital yesterday, to undergo further medical attention. Primus said the 13-year-old mother was in a serious condition, since her blood count was low. At the moment, the GWMO is providing care and attention to the two young women and the 10-day-old baby.

Police ranks were reluctant to accompany the team on Friday, and as such, Commander Budhram was informed of the team’s plans to return to the area on Saturday, Primus noted. Budhram pledged his support, and mobilised ranks to accompany the team.

According to Primus, the event was the first for the GWMO this year, and she called on the authorities to strengthen their network in the outlying areas. “Child Protection needs to increase its network in those areas, because there is a surge of social ills in those areas which people there have become accustomed to,” Primus said.

She called on the Ministry of Social Protection to consider placing child protection officers in communities where the issue of sexual abuse of young girls is prevalent, as well as other areas, as a preventative measure.
She said there is also need for follow-up care by the authorities, since some children are sometimes left at a disadvantage where assistance is concerned. Primus reiterated the need for support from the police on the issue, adding that some police ranks ignore the situations they encounter.

Last October, this newspaper reported on the realities of death and social dysfunction within three hinterland communities -– Port Kaituma, Arakaka and Baramita — which were brought to the surface as residents readily complained to officials from the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs, the Ministry of Social Protection and the GWMO during a weekend visit to the North-West District.

The mission was in the form of an outreach to residents of those communities, pre-arranged by the GWMO as the organisation intensified its fight against exploitation of women, while seeking to improve conditions for them in all sectors.

Child abuse and sexual exploitation of young women has been a thorny issue facing the authorities over the years. Last June, the government stated that it would be embarking on a holistic programme to promote much-needed measures that would support persons who are faced with challenging situations. Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence, told the National Assembly at the time that the Social Protection Ministry was embarking on a process of restructuring and strengthening the various departments, filling long outstanding vacancies and prioritising all programmes.

According to its website, the Country Office of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), over the period 2012-2016, is geared to implement evidence-based programmes of action. These programmes support the rights and development of children and women, and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the areas of eliminating poverty and hunger, universal education, gender equality, maternal and child health, and HIV/AIDS, with a key emphasis on equity.

According to UNICEF, particular emphasis is being placed on increasing the impact of these programmes on children living in Guyana’s hinterland areas, since they have been identified as one of the most vulnerable groups.

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