… alleges sexual abuse by step-father
Neighbours and police yesterday rescued a 14-year-old mentally challenged girl whose mother reportedly shackled her with a length of chain and padlocked it to a fixture after she tried to runaway from home to escape alleged sexual abuse by her stepfather.
The child, who was locked in her home at Bare Roots, Bachelor’s Adventure, East Coast Demerara, has since been handed over to the Welfare Department of the Ministry of Human Services, while her stepfather is in police custody.
Up to late yesterday afternoon the police were still looking for the child’s mother.
This newspaper received a call from public-spirited people in the area highlighting the plight of the child.
When Kaieteur News arrived in the village, the shackles were already removed from the child’s foot and hand, and she was in the care of concerned neighbours until the police arrived to take her away.
Sharon Nagasar, who works with disabled children and is a resident of the community, told Kaieteur News that yesterday the child was seen wandering in the community with the chain secured to her hand and foot by a padlock.
According to residents, the child’s mother who works in the sugar industry was at work and the child was left at home with her stepfather.
However, the girl took the opportunity to flee the home when her stepfather left her alone for a while.
A police patrol in the area was summoned and they instructed the child’s stepfather to remove the shackles from the child. They then left and the child remained with the neighbours until the right intervention was made.
“When I came out, I saw this child with the chain on she foot with this big padlock. The stepfather is saying that she is running away from home. She is not a normal child and they should treat her as such. They shouldn’t abuse her. Disabled children should be treated with love. As long as they are treated with love, they will not run away from home,” Nagasar told Kaieteur News.
She said that after the first police ranks left the scene, residents contacted the media to highlight the matter. The National Commission on the Rights of the Child was also contacted.
The child alleged that she was constantly abused by her stepfather, both physically and sexually.
She said that when she complained to her mother, nothing was done.
“He (stepfather) tell me to move out and don’t come back. He lash me and push me over the landing,” the child recalled.
She said that she was sexually abused whenever she is left alone at home with her stepfather.
“When I tell me mother, she ain’t do nothing. She just get vex and walk away,” the child related.
She showed this newspaper a split finger which she said was caused by her stepfather.
The child indicated that she does not wish to return home.
“If a fire should occur with this child chained in the house how will she get out?” another neighbour asked.
A few years ago, another mentally challenged child perished in a fire while she was chained to a bed at her Montrose, East Coast Demerara home.
The residents also claimed that there is another child in the neighbourhood who is suffering a similar fate and they are calling on the police and the Welfare Department of the Ministry of Human Services to look into the matter.
“We want them to visit the area. There are a lot of children who are not going to school in this area. They need to pay attention to these children,” the neighbour added.
“They got a lot of people who does smoke in this village and they could always pull her into one of these empty houses and rape her and kill her, because she is talking things that make sense,” another neighbour pointed out.
Human Services Minister Priya Manickchand, when contacted by this newspaper, confirmed that the child is in the care of the Ministry’s child protection agency.
She said that her Ministry is grateful that the plight of the child was brought to its attention.
She explained that it is now up to the police to investigate the allegations that the child is making.
“We are happy that this has been brought to our attention. This is evidence that our campaign of ‘Every citizen is a child protector” is working. It is only if every person is aware of his duty that our campaign will continue to be successful,” Minister Manickchand told this newspaper.
The villagers recalled an incident a few years ago in which a mentally ill woman had wandered from her Turkeyen home an ended up on the East Coast of Demerara.
The woman was later found dead on the Clonbrook Foreshore after she was raped by some youths.
And two years ago in Bare Roots, a mentally challenged woman who had wandered into the village was brutally beaten to death after residents mistook her for the mythical ‘ole higue’.
“These are the things that happen in our society, and that is what we are scared of. We have to be protective of our young women,” Nagasar told this newspaper.
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