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Trafficking of under-aged girls significantly increased; Call echoed for young girls to be empowered

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This year’s State of World Population report explores the conditions facing the 10-year-old girl; a stage at which a girl begins undergoing puberty and is therefore either nurtured and driven towards expanding opportunities or abused and driven to narrowing ones.

The report was today made public in Guyana during a ceremony hosted at the Umana Yana.

Being sexually abused at the age of 10 and subsequently becoming pregnant at the age of 16, having faced the stigma and discrimination associated with the effects of her circumstances, Tishana Peters today shared her story of how she emerged to be a wonderful woman. Her story is aimed at encouraging youths to make the better choices in life and “Do not be afraid to speak out”.

“I had an uncle, he was the kind of person that he will bring the goods (groceries), (mommy is not working) the gas, the rice, everything. And one day, he decided to take a chance; I was small, I was afraid to talk out. He said ‘if I talk, mommy will put me out’. I became a teen mother at the age of 16…I found myself pregnant, lost, helpless and confused. Being an A-grade student and a head prefect, I should’ve known better but when I became pregnant, I had no support, there was only discrimination; people laughing at me and society against me…I became an addict to alcohol and nearly killed myself,” Peters related. However, she later joined the Women Across Differences (W.A.D) organisation where she was able to garner the strength to move on.

Peters urged teachers and parents to sit and talk to their children; not only females, but males as well, to have a better understanding of the challenges they face daily.

According to the State of World Population report 2016, $21B annually for developing countries can be unlocked if all 10-year-old girls complete secondary education. Issues affecting this however, include forced marriage, child labour and other practices.

Addressing today’s event was Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence who noted that one of the major issues affecting the development of young girls in Guyana is Trafficking in Persons.

According to the Minister, there were 103 suspected cases of Trafficking in Persons reported to the Ministry with 97 being females under the age of 18.

“The data reveal that between January to October 2016, there has been a significant increase, almost doubling what obtained in 2012” Lawrence said.

In 2012, the number of cases referred to the Ministry was 54 with 30 being females, in 2013; there were 56 cases with 52 being females, in 2014; there were 59 cases with 59 being females and in 2015; there were 68 cases with 59 being females.

She urged stakeholders to work together to rid society of this scourge which is damaging the lives of young people. The Minister also noted that work is being done by the Trafficking in Persons Unit in schools and communities.

Another problem, teenage pregnancy was addressed by First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger. Mrs. Granger noted that “it is a matter of concern that the Caribbean ranks second to Sub-Saharan, Africa as having the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the world. It is a matter of greater concern that Guyana has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the Commonwealth Caribbean and I learn just a few weeks ago that Sophia, on the outskirts of Georgetown has the highest number of teenage mothers in our country.”

The First lady spoke to the health complications and stigma associated with early pregnancy, noting that teenagers and by extension teen mothers need to be empowered.

Recently, a Teenage Pregnancy Support Group was launched in Sophia where in addition to accessing health care, teen mothers will be provided with the opportunity to interact and share their experiences with their peers.

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