Child abuse, incest and trafficking of children, will be the topics for discussion at a public education forum slated for next Friday (November 23) at Emancipation Park, New Kingston.
The event, scheduled to be held from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., is being organised by the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) in collaboration with charity organisation, Be Inspired International, under the theme: ‘Against Child Abuse, Incest and Child Trafficking: Let’s Protect Our Children!’.
It is part of Youth Month and Parent Month activities as well as a national project of Be Inspired International President and LASCO 2012-2013 Nurse of the Year, Victoria Melhado.
Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, is expected to address the forum, which will be attended by representatives from the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), Child Development Agency (CDA), Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), children’s advocacy organisations and various youth groups.
Nurse Melhado told JIS News that the forum will focus on the many problems affecting children and examine measures that have been implemented to combat child abuse in terms of prevention, protection and prosecution.
Giving reasons for organising the event, she said nurses have been faced with “very atrocious, very heartrending incidences” involving children and women over the years, citing the recent robbery and sexual assault of five females in Montego Bay, including an eight-year old girl and two teenagers.
“Several of these issues have really stirred us, the Nurses Association of Jamaica, and we have been moved to call the nation to action,” she added.
Nurse Melhado said the NAJ will also use the opportunity to address the pending establishment of a Sex Offenders Registry with the hope of bringing about a plan of action for its speedy implementation.
“We will call for it to be speedily implemented. Why is it taking so long? These persons need to be registered. We need to know the paedophiles; this is the stance of the Nurses Association. We have to stand up for our children, our mothers, our sisters,” she said.
The Sexual Offences (Registration of Sex Offenders) Regulations, 2012, which seeks to establish and operate the register and registry, was recently tabled in the Senate. Under the Act, persons convicted of certain specified offences including rape, abduction and the sale or trafficking of persons, are required to be registered in a Sex Offenders Registry.
Turning to the issue of child trafficking, Nurse Melhado said that Jamaica has been placed on the tier-two watch list in the United States’ State Department 2012 report on trafficking in persons, which, she said, has significant bearings in terms of international funding for the country.
“So we want those issues also to be addressed,” she added.