Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde has made it a personal mission to see that cases of child abuse are investigated fearlessly, even putting her name on the line to see the job done.
“You have a mandate bigger than before under this Government. And if you don’t want to do it, call Cynthia. I would give the Police the information. I am not afraid, because it hurts me to know what is happening to these little souls that have blessed us.”
She also declared that the Child Care Board must investigate all cases of child abuse whether the culprits are police, priests or politicians.
As she delivered remarks at the launch this morning of Child Month, Forde said she and many others in society were growing tired hearing of cases of young girls and boys being molested.
She has told the board to, at all times, pass on the names and information of alleged perpetrators to the police, “The key people I am talking about are not the ordinary man who is in the village as a speculator. We have police officers that are taking advantage according to what we read in the media sometimes, and according to what we know. We have teachers who are taking advantage of our young children. We have priests, and caregivers, and counselors, who know better, and because they have not been caught, they get away.
“But [Director of CCB Joan] Crawford once a report is given to you and your Deputy Director, and the Chairman and the Board, please deal with it. It will not be ‘Cynthia, somebody told a lie on me, it would not be me’. But whoever it is, I don’t care what status they carry, the police must be properly informed, they must do their work, and so must the court of law.
“Ordinary people are getting locked up for it, whoever is a professional go along with them too because our children must have the purity of living and enjoying life without nobody touching them, or penetrating them.”
The Minister said she hoped that the new children’s help line, established, recently by the FMH Law Firm and the Sandy Lane Trust to give the nation’s children a voice, would play a significant role in helping to bring some of the perpetrators to justice.
Forde said that too many mothers were intervening and stopping their children from reporting cases of child abuse.
She said this was why it was important for members of the community to report alleged cases of abuse.
“When you call the Child Care Board, you don’t have to give any of your information. Just tell them ‘I am living so and so, the name of the person is whatever and I am seeing it . . .The mother is beating the child, the mother throw kerosene oil, or beat it in its head with a hammer.’ We see it every day. That form of impregnation by a big hard back man has to stop,” the minister declared.
Forde said as soon as time permits, she would be overseeing an aggressive social media campaign to encourage Barbadians to report cases of abuse to all child protection agencies.
“What about the scars of being raped and molested? What about the marks on your skin from brutal beatings? It is wrong and it has to stop,” she said
The Minister said she was also concerned about teenagers running away from home. She suggested that though some of them were “indifferent and disgusting”, there were also those who ran away for specific reasons.
She said she was aware of some young women who wandered because they were being molested in the home.
The minister added: “Tell the mother she say ‘you want my man left me, you now want to show up my family’. Don’t say a word, and if you say anything find somewhere else to live. They then go on the road and they seek solace among people whom they can use as friends and then they get molested even more. And therefore, let us see how best the Child Care Board can help them to become the kinds of citizens they can be by treating to them professionally.”