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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Children in Trouble... Nine-Day Wonders...

Danah Alleyne. 15 years old. Wins a wining competition against women years her senior. Caught on tape and suspiciously precocious for her age. Apologises. But likely because she got caught...

Anita Annamunthodo. 19 years old. On charges of child neglect at 18. Mother at 14. Living with a man as his wife at 10...

Sean Luke. 6 years old. Sodomized to death with a cane stalk while his mother slept...

Sean Luke's Murderers. 15 and 16 years old. Allegedly brutal sodomites...

Purse snatcher on Charlotte Street. 7 years old. Saved from a crowd of angry women by Police after he tried to run off with another woman's purse. He wanted to buy something to eat...

Aleem Ali. 14 years old. Murdered. Chopped, burnt and left in a forest.

Kerwin Welington, Danny Seetahal and Roshan Ramkissoon. All aged 17. On charges for the depraved murder of Aleem Ali...

8:00PM. Middle of the week. A boy aged somewhere between 10 and 14 (...I couldn't tell better than that...) is on Henry Street between Independence Square and Broadway. His clothes are ratty and are as oversized as his shoes. He is sitting in a corner and weakly begging passers-by to buy him something to eat. He has decided though that he would really like to have chinese-fried chicken and fries...

9:30AM. A school day. A boy probably about 13 or 14 years old. On Broadway, in front of Bhaggan's Drugs, asking passers-by for money. He very gratefully accepts two Fresh Express sandwiches and an orange Fruta. He's seen later in the day begging in front of the banks' ATM rooms on Independence Square South...

The early 90's. Three little children, two girls and a boy, between 6 and 10. They spend part of their day in UWI begging for money before heading out to Curepe Junction to tackle the after-work crowd. When snubbed, the eldest of the children pulls out a wad of bills and absently begins to count, as if to say, "I ent really need your money... I have plenty right here..."

1:00AM. KFC Independence Square. After a double feature at Globe. She is no more than 10, but is dressed like she is closer to twenty and working the Woodbrook streets. She has the vocabulary of a man who has spent most of his life at sea. She is alone and looking, very specifically, for a man to buy her dinner...

She is 15, and she has spent the last six months embarrassing a grown man in the road with her taunts. She tells him over and over that he can't handle her, that he is a soft man, that she would manners him with her "winery". A trip in the heat of the day to Macueripe proves that she is not only right, but that she is terribly diseased...

It was the early 80's. She was 9 years old. She hates Saturdays. She can tell the time by his arrival. Always at 9:00PM. He is always drunk. His weekly visits to rape her cease only she has had her first period at 13.

It is the mid-70's. He is 11 and still in Primary School. He is introduced to sexual intercourse by a 17-year old girl in bushes in the neighbourhood while in the company of seven other older boys who have brought him along for his first "parry".

We still don't know who killed Akiel Chambers, 11, nor what happened to him before he died...

She is 14. She is not allowed to come outside to lime with the children in the neighbourhood, she says, because her father is concerned about what "boys bring". But she is the object of affection of all the boys in the street. She is leaning out of her window one day, chatting gaily with the other children in the road. A wayward breeze blows the curtain from around her before she can catch it, revealing her much elder cousin sweating behind her. In later years, she confides to a friend that she always leaned outside while they did their do to make sure that they weren't caught. She was always the instigator, and had been from the age of 12...

When her period came at 12, her mother told her that if a boy ever touched her, she would get pregnant. At 14, she instead believed a 19-year old when he told her that nothing would happen if she had sex while they were standing. Her mother threw her out of the house when her pregnant belly began to show...

It is the 80's. It is the first term of a new school year. It is time for an annual tradition in a Port of Spain secondary school. The fifth form year - boys and girls - are about to take wagers on how many first formers they can "break out" before Christmas...

It's 2:00AM. The scene is the car park of a night club in the West. A 15-year old girl has just been thrown out of the club. She is laying in wait though. She has decided that she will finish the beating that she started to put on the girl still inside the club. she says that the girl has also been sleeping with her 17-year old boyfriend...

Tonight, all over our twin island paradise, children are being ravaged not for the first time by relatives. And someone who knows what is happening is doing nothing about it...

I heard the other day that one in every three children are touched while they are growing up in this country. If it's not you, dear reader, then consider yourself lucky that you beat the odds. But chances then are grave that one of your two dearest friends may not have been so fortunate...

Our children are in trouble. They have been in trouble from time immemorial. And we do nothing but talk, talk, talk, blame, blame, blame until the latest escapee from our collective closet of shame runs its nine-day course...

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