Four minors rescued from sexual slavery
Thankful to Women Miners’ Organization, Bartica Police
Four teenage girls escaped sexual exploitation in Region Seven “gold bush” thanks to collaborative efforts by the Guyana Women Miners’ Organization and ranks of the Bartica Police Station.
Their perpetrators were apprehended, on Friday, by ranks that went in search of the teenagers at the prostitution house in Oko Backdam. Three of the girls are currently with the organization while one of them has returned home.
Ranks were made aware of the situation through the Women Miners’ Organization, which aided in the girls being rescued.
One of the teenagers had earlier escaped into the bush in search of help because she refused to “pick fare.”
She encountered a man who helped her get out of the area. Someone contacted the organization’s President, Simona Broomes, who then notified ranks of the Bartica Police Station and a member located in Bartica, Irene Sears.
Officers of Guyana Geology and Mines Commission at Itaballi toll bridge were alerted that the teen was coming out from the backdam in a truck. They were asked to keep her safe just in case she arrived before ranks and Sears.
However, the ranks reached Itaballi hours before her arrival.
Scared, clad in torn clothes and mud stained, the girl traveled to Bartica with the team. There, she related her horrifying tale, which led ranks to travel by night to rescue the other three girls and apprehend the human rights violators.
The teen was given clothing and food by members of the organization.
During an interview with Kaieteur News, Friday, the 16-year-old, who hails from East Berbice, said that a barber in Berbice recruited her to work as a shopkeeper in the interior.
Owing to financial woes at home, she accepted the job for $80,000 per week unknowingly to relatives. Three other girls (two 15-year-olds and another 16-year-old) were also recruited.
A woman, who presented herself as Abigail, assured her that she was going to work as a shopkeeper. The other girls were promised employment at other shops in the backdam.
The woman collected the teenagers, last Sunday, from Berbice and took them to Pouderoyen, West Bank Demerara. There, they spent the night. One of the girls was chosen from the line-up to sleep with the woman’s son.
Even when, they had to sneak past the checkpoint at Itaballi nothing seemed amiss to the teenager either.
Upon arrival at Oko Backdam, on Tuesday, the girls were sent to bathe at the creek since there is no washroom at the bar. They were given small rooms, each containing a single bunk bed and a shelf.
“When night come she got we walking all de time and I turn and ask she if I ain’t selling in the shop anymore and she said just now… Men start coming and eventually she call me in the corner and tell me when the men dem talk to me I must say short time, two pennyweight and long time three and a half pennyweight.”
The teen claimed that she was confused when the woman told her that but eventually it became clear that she was expected to sell her body.
“But like the other girls knew what they suppose to do cause they de talking to the men dem…and the woman send we fuh sleep cause like only seven men been there,” the teenager said.
“I wanted to go home cause I didn’t know what going…I expect fuh start selling in the shop…so I guh on de road and I see some men stand up and I ask them fuh phone call and they seh go up de hill… I see two girls and they give me a call to my mother… I told her I want come home and she start fuh cry.”
The teen said her absence from the brothel enraged the woman.
“She send her son to call me and me seh I coming just now and couple minutes after Abigail come and start slapping me up and asking if this is wah she bring me here for. I jus walking and anything can happen to me and I start cry,” the teen added.
The girl was taken to the bar where she was forced to engage in conversations with men as part of the woman’s marketing tactics.
Without giving up hopes of leaving, the teen asked the different men she conversed with to help her escape. Finally, a young man volunteered some assistance but she was unable to escape immediately.
The duo walked under the dark sky with torchlight to the hilltop to call her mother.
On the way, the man told her that a truck was leaving the interior the next day and she could leave with it. Their conversation was interrupted by one of the woman’s sons who went in search for her.
“She sent her other son for me…When we go back to the place the woman start cussing up and shouting at me…I stand up and start cry and they lock me up in the room so I can’t come out… I cry whole night and them laughing me,” the teen said.
She related that she felt like a prisoner because they locked her in the room.
“Next morning they opened the door and tell me washout everything and give she back the clothes she buy… I put on back my clothes… She tell me I owe she.”
The girl recounted that the woman took her to another hilltop and attempted to throw her off during an altercation. An enraged Abigail called the teen’s mom demanding money and threatened to prostitute the girl.
The opportunity to escape was presented when she was left alone on the hilltop. The teen walked until she met the man who assisted her.
“I see a man and I talk to he and den he call a truck and I see back the boy I talked to the night who he seh woulda drop me off… The truck only breaking down and a man in de truck only touching me. I de afraid so I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want they rape me.”
The teen said she was relieved to meet Irene Sears from the organization.
While the teen was safe away from the sex business, the police were on their way to rescue the other teenagers.
The three teenagers who were in Bartica at Sears’s residence, yesterday, spoke about their stay at the brothel and their rescue.
Though, this was not the first time in the interior under those circumstances for two of the teenagers, they claimed that they were tricked into prostitution.
The girls recounted that they were forced to do striptease. At first, they had refused but the woman threatened to send them home. As such, two of the girls (one of them was menstruating at the time) agreed to strip since they needed to send home money. The girls said that their families are very poor and are in need of financial assistance.
But the other girl was prepared to go home and stood her ground not to strip.
According to the teen, the woman gave them a concoction of Guinness, Banko Wine and another unknown substance to drink to put them in the mood to strip. Following that session they were sent to rest.
Around 2:00 am, Friday, three commands were issued for them to open their doors. It was the police. Since the girls were resting the police allowed them to continue whilst their perpetrators, the woman, her husband and another woman were handcuffed.
The girls were taken to the Bartica Police Station and they were issued similar courtesy to that of the first teenager who escaped by the Women Miners’ Organization.
According to Broomes, an Officer Moore at the police station played an integral role in rescuing the minors. Cognizant that if word had gotten back into Oko that the police were aware of the situation the woman would have fled, Broomes suggested.
She said that organization is grateful to the police for their swift actions. Broomes emphasized that her organisation’s scattered membership across the interior enables members to assist the vulnerable.
She said that those involved in transporting persons who are being trafficked should also be held responsible. Broomes said that the teens stand to benefit from skills for life training in areas such as heavy duty operator and drivers.
The teenagers expressed heartfelt thanks to the organization and police for rescuing them.