Jamaica likes to portray itself as a tropical paradise - its laid-back atmosphere attracting millions of tourists every year. But behind this idyllic picture lies a more sinister truth: this is a nation where child sex abuse is endemic.
Jamaica likes to portray itself as a tropical paradise - its sunshine and laid-back atmosphere attracting millions of tourists every year. But behind this idyllic picture lies a more sinister truth: this is a nation where child sex abuse is endemic. According to the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, 40 percent of Jamaicans say that their first experience of sexual contact was forced and while still under the age of consent. More often than not, the perpetrator was someone close to home: a family member, teacher, community or religious leader.
In response, the Jamaican government launched Breaking Silence, an awareness campaign encouraging victims to come forward. It has been heralded as an important step in combating the cycle of abuse. But, human rights groups say that taboos about reporting incest, rape and the abuse of power by older men are so entrenched that thousands of young Jamaican girls still continue to suffer in silence.
Produced for Aljazeera
Executive Producer: Andy Glynne
Director: Lucy Chapman
Jamaica's silent children follows Julie Mansfield, Jamaican activist (herself molested by her uncle as a child) as she traveled across the country to try and raise awareness and demand better protection for the nation’s children. In a society where women are by and large still dependent on men for financial support, poverty and lack of employment opportunities are also driving sexual exploitation of teenage girls; sometimes their parents are even complicit, seeing sex as a legitimate way for a young girl to earn her keep.
Where appropriate, parental consent was obtained for interviews with minors in this programme. For legal and privacy reasons some identities have been obscured.