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'CRUSHED'


A Canada-based organisation is calling for the Jamaican authorities to open an investigation into claims that girls as young as seven years of age in a Westmoreland community are being serially molested by predators, killed and dumped into the sea there.

According to UZAZI Foundation, a Canadian incorporated non-profit organisation, the allegations were brought to its attention in October last year after a 14-year-old high school student, whom it sponsors, fell into the hands of individuals who drugged her, held her captive and raped her for days before carrying her to a remote location where arrangements were made for her to be taken out to sea and drowned.

The child, however, was found during a community search. A suspect has since been arrested, according to information reaching the Jamaica Observer, and is presently before the courts.

The teen, according to the mother, was examined by a medical doctor and was found to have been sexually abused.

“We were all crushed that such an incredibly gifted child with such promise could have been abused in this way. [She] reported that after enduring weeks of sexualised comments and advances from men in her community, she was accosted and circled by several of them. They pressured her to offer verbal consent that she should be  exploited. She was held captive without being allowed to shower,” UZAZI Foundation Executive Director Devon Dunn said in a news release yesterday.

When that child again went missing on March 22 this year with no news of her whereabouts until yesterday afternoon, the organisation again clamoured for investigators to get to the bottom of the situation and the other claims.

“It is my understanding that young girls in that community are regularly being molested and thrown to their deaths from cliffs into the sea. I have been informed that recently the body of a seven-year-old girl was washed on shore. There appears to be a predator or predators very active …and that these predators are targeting young girls,” Dunn stated.

“These allegations must be investigated. Jamaica’s future lies in its abilities to keep its children safe. I am concerned that Jamaica’s children, especially during COVID-19 crises, are being abused and killed at an alarming rate, and the institutions that should be protecting them are falling short,” he added.

At news time yesterday, the Observer was reliably informed that the missing teen had been located by the police in Negril in the parish and was being debriefed by the police. The mother of the teen told the Observer that the child, who lives between both parents’ homes, had gone missing while in transit to her father’s house on the day in question.

Asked about the allegations that such incidents are rampant in the area she said, “Whole heap a dem deh something gwaan dung a dem yah area.”

The Observer was told that the matter has been escalated and a report made to the Trafficking in Persons Secretariat (TIP) within the Ministry of National Security.

The UZAZI Foundation said that since 2018 it has completed 12 missions to Jamaica, bringing in audio-visual equipment, teaching resources, furniture, building supplies, food, appliances, toys, musical and sports equipment.

It said it has now adopted eight schools with some 4,000 students and has sponsored students at two of the island’s leading high schools in rural Jamaica.



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