Members of civil society are being encouraged to be more proactive in helping to reduce teenage pregnancies in Jamaica.
Education, Youth and Information State Minister, Hon. Floyd Green, is inviting persons with knowledge of teenage or adolescent girls being sexually molested to report this to the relevant authorities, including the police.
His call comes against the background of data from the National Family Planning Board-Sexual Health Agency (NFPB-SHA), which shows that Jamaica’s adolescent pregnancy rate is 72 per 1,000 girls in the age range 15 to 19.
This figure is notably higher than the global average of 49, and the cumulative figure of 65 for the Caribbean.
Speaking at a Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) World Population Day exposition at Morant Villas in Morant Bay, St. Thomas, on July 11, Mr. Green noted that teenage pregnancy is “common place” in several communities, and emphasised that unless citizens of goodwill speak out against the sexual exploitation of girls, “we will not create the change that we seek”.
“I think it is time for us to really name and shame the ones in our communities who are consistently preying on our young ladies; that is the only way we will get them to stop,” he added.
Mr. Green also encouraged girls who have been victims or targets of sexual molestation to “take control of your destiny”.
“Don’t allow anybody to force you to do anything that you do not want to do. Also, don’t be afraid to go to agencies like the Child Development Agency (CDA), the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) or the police to report these matters,” he urged.
He advised that the Ministry has been working with the police to ensure that a CDA representative is on location when a report is being made, particularly by victims, “so that we can start the healing process”.
Mr. Green said males, particularly young men, also have a role to play in the process of safeguarding the welfare of the society’s females.
“Don’t turn a blind eye when your peers aren’t treating the women the way they should be treated. We have to now ensure that we all play our part in protecting each other,” he emphasised.
The exposition was held under the theme ‘Investing in Teenage Girls: Engaging Men and Boys’.
It was staged in partnership with the Ministries of Education, Youth and Information, and Health; United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA),Vision 2030 Jamaica Secretariat, PIOJ; Women’s Centre Foundation of Jamaica (WCFJ), Jamaica Library Service (JLS), Bureau of Gender Affairs, NFPB–SHA; and the CDA.
Source: Jamaica Information Service