At a time when most students her age are getting ready to sit the Grade Six Achievement Test, 12-year-old Alicia*, is preparing to give birth to a baby that is allegedly fathered by her 52-year-old relative.
The child is now seven months pregnant and her 28-year-old mother is upset that the man she believes is responsible is yet to be arrested.
Janet Fearon* told The Sunday Gleaner her daughter was sexually assaulted by her cousin and another man in their rural Clarendon community last year, but she was unaware of this until she took the child to the doctor for a check-up. The doctor contacted the police after confirming the pregnancy and questioning the little girl.
“She said she is afraid to talk to me. I don’t know why she is afraid to talk to me as a mother. I don’t know if it’s because I am strict. If she come home and say anything to me, I would rough her,” admitted Fearon.
“The other day she come from school and I see that she was crying and I said ‘Alicia, what’s the matter’ and she said ‘mommy, I am okay’, that’s it, she said nothing more to me,” she said.
But Alicia told The Sunday Gleaner that she could not tell her mother because she was threatened. She said the incident took place as she was coming home from extra lessons one day.
According to Alicia, it was not uncommon for her to visit her cousin’s house, since his 12-year-old daughter is her best friend. That day, however, two adult men took her into a bedroom and told her that they wanted to have sex with her.
“They said if I go home go tell my mother, they gonna kill me,” the little girl recounted.
Alicia and her mother have since been questioned by the police regarding the incident, however, to date, no charges have been filed against the accused men. While one of the men have been keeping a low profile and only visits the community in the wee hours of the morning, police say they have refrained from arresting Alicia’s cousin because his foot was amputated a few weeks ago.
Police personnel from the Frankfield Police Station told The Sunday Gleaner that they were advised by the clerk of courts for the Clarendon Resident Magistrate’s Court to hold off on arresting the accused until his foot is healed. However, they insisted that they visit Alicia on occasions.
The cops said they are currently investigating other carnal abuse cases in that area. One of the most recent cases the investigators are working on is that of a 14-year-old girl who said she was raped while taking a shower at an outside bathroom. She, too, is now pregnant.
“We have a grave challenge here when it comes to the young girls, especially when it comes to the fathers,” said one senior cop at the station.
But the hurt is not going away for Alicia’s mother, who is overwhelmed by the prospect of raising another child. She already has four of her own with the last one still in diapers.
“It has shaken up the family to know that you have a 12-year-old girl and you are trying with her with no father. Her father left Jamaica from she is one year old until now,” lamented Fearon.
“He is 52-year old and I didn’t expect that from him, because me and him a family by my father’s side” she said of the man accused of molesting her child.
As a small farmer, the young mother said things are tight and her daughter is yet to secure some of the items she needs to prepare for childbirth.
“She will be doing a surgery to have the baby, because the doctor said she is too young and cannot have it off her own,” she explained.
Alicia, a little older than a baby herself, however, believes she is prepared to deal with a baby, and briefly lost her shy demeanour as she informed our news team that her daughter will be named Tashay. Digging her toes into the ground while placing furtive glances at her mom, the adolescent outlined how she intends to take care of her baby.
“Like when him urinate, you wipe off him bottom and change him pampas and put on another one and him clothes. And like when him puke, you clean him and bathe him,” explained the child.
Fearon said she is constantly accused of being careless and her daughter, who hopes to become a judge, is often teased by her peers.
“They say a lot of things (and) that I should get locked up because I am careless,” the mother said.
“Her friends them see her and laugh at her and mock her and jeer her,” she said.
It has not gone unnoticed, too, that at least two pregnant teenage girls have been brutally killed in recent times in what was suspected to be efforts to protect the identity of their abusers. One man has already confessed to killing one of the teenagers while investigations continue into the death of the other. Fearon said she fears for the safety of her daughter.
LIVING IN FEAR
“At nights when we are in our house, we have to fear, because I hear foot(steps) outside of the house. We have three dogs down there at the house, and last night somebody lick one of the dogs with a stone. So you have to say we are kind of fearful because we don’t know what people would do. The man dem name calling and so we have to be fearful,” she said.
Community members told The Sunday Gleaner that they, too, are concerned about the safety of the little girl and are upset that her suspected abusers have not been arrested.
A teacher at Alicia’s primary school told our news team that the Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) was contacted as soon as school officials realised she was pregnant. One school official also showed us a text message that was sent to an officer at CISOCA to follow up on her case last December.
According to officials at the school, meals are prepared by the school’s chef and regularly taken to Alicia to ensure that she is properly nourished. However, there are concerns about how the turn of events might be affecting Alicia’s best friend, whose father is at the centre of the controversy.
Individuals who have migrated from the community over the years, have also come together to start a Facebook page with the intention of raising awareness about incest and carnal abuse, which they say is very common in the area. A group member said they also contacted the Child Development Agency (CDA) and the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) to inform them about Alicia’s situation.
“It seems to be quite an accepted norm,” she said.
“We met at a physical location sometime last month and we called CDA and OCR and they said that we need to write a letter so they can have a meeting in the community,” she explained.
Alicia’s mother cautioned other mothers to observe their children carefully, in order to protect them.
“As a mother, I would advise parents to take a closer look on their child, because they are not going to come and tell you that man molest them. If the man threaten them, they are not going to come home and talk,” she warned.
*Names changed to protect the identities.