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Social Protection Ministry confirms 9-year-old trafficking victim being held against will

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The Ministry of Social protection has confirmed that a 9-year-old trafficking victim who was brought to the city on September 28th, 2016, and was scheduled to return to Region One on October 2nd, 2016, is still in the care of the Ministry.

Responding to an article published in the Kaieteur News dated “Wednesday December 28, 2016” which stated that the child is being held against her will, the Ministry said “a thorough situational analysis was conducted by the Ministry and the findings explicitly suggest that the child requires further evaluation/assessment to ascertain the state (emotional, social, mental, physical) of readiness for reintegration into society.”

It also clarified that the Ministry is cognizant of the physiological needs of all victims of TIP and does not pursue a ‘one-glove-fit-all’ strategy since all cases are unique and have their own peculiarities.

According to the article, the Guyana Women Miners Organisation (GWMO) is accusing the Ministry of forcefully detaining the nine-year- against her will noting that the child wanted to return to school. “The GWMO is not against victims being placed in protective care, as the organisation along with the Sisters of Mercy has pioneered the creation of the country’s first Safe Home for Victims of Trafficking in Persons; but the victim must have the right to choose to be in protective care,” the body said.

The story broke in September by the said GWMO which also disclosed that the perpetrator was killed by the girl’s brother. As such, the body believes there is no harm in her returning to her home.

However, the Ministry maintains that “the Ministry wishes to state that the concerns expressed in this article regarding the social and emotional well-being of the child is legitimate and commendable. However, the Ministry strongly holds the view that our current priority is to ensure the child is safe and the welfare is adequately addressed. Until such assurance can be made, the child victim will remain in the protective care of the Ministry.”

The Ministry says it continues to provide the optimum care and support for the child’s rehabilitation and reintegration into society. The Ministry assures the public that the security and safety of the child victim is of paramount importance hence the need for protective care.

The GWMO had disclosed that the girl was being abused by a neighbour for two years who in turn provides the family with groceries and in one case, a generator. The case became known after the girl’s brother murdered the perpetrator. Additionally, it was found that upon re-examination, the GWMO said its information contradicted the Guyana Police Force’s initial statement, as well as the falsified doctor’s report which had stated that she was not sexually active.

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