…now rescued and thriving in state care
When most people hear about trafficking in persons, they often think of a vulnerable girl being carted off to the interior regions of Guyana and forced into prostitution. But it’s not always that way.
This story of a humble 15-year-old girl may just change your view on that. Now thriving and well cared for in one of the state institutions, this teen’s story started with truancy, and following the wrong group of friends.
Jane, (not her real name), has been living in a safe-house since February. Her story is one of success for the Childcare and Protection Agency (CPA), as well as the rights advocates at the Guyana Women Miners’ Organisation who rescued her.
Jane had attended secondary school and she admits that she used to be reluctant to go to school but that was compounded by the fact that her family struggled financially.
Back then, she lived with seven other relatives; cousins, aunts, grandmother, siblings. Jane recalls only seeing her dad when she was very young.
As she embraced her teenage years, her mom, a hard working dredge owner, was hardly around as well, since business in the interior would demand her presence.
“I used to be rude and never want to go to school. My grandmother used to say ‘You got to go to school! Without education you can’t be nothing’ and I used to be like ‘Me ain kay I want stay home’” Jane told Kaieteur News.
The teenager said she would spend her days with her friends and eventually she dropped out of school. In the same vein, Jane recalls that she and her young friends got into the habit of clubbing.
“We start going to a club on Light Street and we used to do bad things like pick fare and so,” she said.
According to Jane, she and her friends would step out in very revealing clothes and with an air of sophistication; creating the impression that they were way beyond their tender years. Men, she said, would approach them asking for “favours” and she and her friends turned prey to the desires of many older men.
“First I was shy. I didn’t start doing anything,” Jane said as she explained that it had simply started with her accompanying her friends to the night spot.
But one night, her friends said: “Girl you gah do it. You can’t depend pun we, we can’t give you money fuh go home.”
The teenager recalls that she told her friends: “I ain’t really gat to get money fuh go home, is yal I following. But she was like ‘just do it one time and you gun get used to it’ and I went and do it.”
Speaking of the first night, she said “I was fourteen and he was older… I was shy because you got to take off your clothes and so.” Recounting the details of the encounters is an uncomfortable ordeal for Jane.
For charges she said “It’s like a day or a night. The girls tell me about $10,000 a night.”
Her friends would tie up the agreements and she would accompany the men to hotels and have sex with them. “They used to force me,” she confessed.
Jane recalls that after months of plying that trade, one of her friends was going into the interior and she asked her mother to go but her mother refused.
However, Jane confessed that she intended to outsmart her mother by fleeing without permission and had actually told her mom that she wanted to go on a trip with her friends.
As she remembered, her mom had said “You can’t go there, you too young.” But Jane had packed her bag and was ready to leave. She explained that her friend’s mother and sister were already among those prostituting in the interior.
But, her mother, suspecting something was amiss, headed to the GWMO’s office where she met with the Head. The women miners swiftly intervened.
It’s been ten months since that day and Jane has been living in a shelter. She attends school and takes part in all the activities at the home.
“I am so glad that I came here. Sometimes I miss home but I get to visit.” She confessed that at first, she was reluctant to adapt to the new life offered in state care. But now she is surrounded by a group of girls, who like her, are victims with the power to overcome.
One of her friends now has a baby while the other has chosen an alternative lifestyle. “I am so glad that I am here right now because if it was not for my mother bringing me here, I don’t know what would have happened to me.”
“I was a follower then but I am a leader now. The thing is you need to focus and not let people lead you astray.”
Jane swells with pride as she reports her attitude towards school has changed and she is now a school prefect. The 15-year-old is preparing to take examinations to perhaps gain a place in a secondary school.
“Be careful with friends; friends can influence you to do bad things,” she says.
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