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By Sunita SamarooEach night it started the same: he would slip on high heels and slink his ‘voluptuous’ body into the sexiest dress he could find. Moments later, he would peer into the mirror as he skillfully applied makeup,Jerseys From China, careful not to miss any rough edges.Every night Sam (pseudonym) transforms into the person he knew within: the person who sat nightly at the city’s tallest wooden building waiting. There it became rote to watch the car lights pass by. It was an anticipated moment for him when men, hungry with desire, would pull up, asking for a short time.Surreptitiously, he would enter the vehicle and before long, the ordeal is over. He waits again. For him, money comes this way. “Survival”,Cheap Jerseys, he calls it, “until something better comes along.” Sixteen years ago, this was not the life Sam had envisioned he would lead.In fact, sixteen years ago Sam was a little boy full of life, bursting with expectati**. ‘Ordinary’ was how he described the Christian household he grew up in with his aunts and mother; a father figure was never a part of the picture.With ease, Sam told this newspaper that school was his focus, as then he believed he could achieve anything.Growing up in the city, Sam’s childhood was quite a comfortable one, even if it was not filled with the finer things in life. His neighbours were very friendly and often he would slip over to their house where he would take in the delights of sharing time and being guided by the married couple living next door.“(The neighbour’s husband) used to look out for us in the neighbourhood so I used to go over at their house, eat,Wholesale Jerseys Authentic, drink, sleep and all sorts of things. They would buy you nice things that you like as a child growing up,Cheap Jerseys China,” Sam reflected.But then came Chris – the couple’s eldest son. As he spoke of the older man, Sam’s voice lowers and his eyes seem far away. “One day we were in the house alone and he…” his voice trails off. With a pained expressed, Sam recalls being grabbed by arms much bigger than his and being flung onto a bed by the neighbour’s older son.Now speaking as the 11-year-old boy within, Sam says he rested face-down on the bed as he was being penetrated, very much against his will. The cries, pleas and fight of an 11-year-old boy were not enough to deter Chris.“It was very painful; I even pulled his hair but he didn’t stop…” Sam said this occurred three times before he cut off the visits. His life, then filled with more questi** than answers, changed completely and he wasn’t sure how to get back to “happy.”“I didn’t tell anyone about it; I was really afraid. Knowing that you’re growing up and that it is wrong in the sight of God and then your family on the other hand would not want to hear those kind of things. I was afraid so I did not tell them. I kept it a secret,” Sam confided.Not One Boy StandingWhile Sam’s story may be seen as an isolated event to some, experts have said that this is actually patterned throughout the region: countless little boys are being abused and are left alone, often suffering in silence.One such expert is Florence ‘Dada’ Olatunji, a behavioural scientist who focuses largely on human development. She has been working with the Volunteer Youth Corps, a local nongovernmental organisation, in the area of youth and youth development for a number of years.‘Dada’, as she is popularly called, is very passionate about MAPS – most at-risk population. She explained to Kaieteur News that while this includes almost everyone, her drive has always been the youth.For decades, Dada has been lending her voice to the silent ones – the “voiceless” as she calls them. Interacting with at-risk youth is a daily feature for Dada and, according to her, Sam’s ordeal is one not alien to Guyana or the Caribbean at large.Many boys who have been abused, she said, find themselves in a precarious place; they struggle to answer the question of who they are and oftentimes believe that the abuse they suffered is the “end-all.”Their dreams and aspirati** of holding accomplished professi** often go through the door, following the sexual abuse meted out to them.Dada explained that many times after the sexual abuse, the victimized children may start discovering that they are gay and instead of realizing that sexuality merely speaks to their preference for sex, with no guidance they feel their lives are over.Through working with MAPS, the MSM (Men who have sex with Men), sex workers, and youth generally, Dada said she found similar situati** across the board.“I saw a lot of things that are similar to what I see here working with young people, especially with boys, where they are being taken advantage of. At this adolescent age they are still trying to understand who they are and many times, in many cases, older people take advantage of that,” she lamented.Dada went on, “Sometimes, home is not safe so they are looking for comfort outside but we have adults who take advantage of this little vulnerability.”The behavioural scientist explained that children are lured by a false sense of security concreted by the belief that help will be given to them and the conviction that someone cares. Oftentimes, however, the child actually ends up a victim of sexual abuse.It was emphasized that time and time again that the perpetrators are too often the people they think they can trust.Living on the SidelinesFurthermore, Dada said that people listen – but they do so more for girls. Boys, she said, find themselves on the sidelines and are often forced to suffer in silence since shame has been attached to them admitting that they have been abused.At times too, people, even those in authorities do not listen. This situation, she said, oftentimes becomes overbearing and boys tend to lash out or decide to “end it all.”“Sometimes – because of the way people think that men should be strong, brave, hard and masculine – you put them in a vulnerable position where they can’t tell anybody for the fear that people will laugh at them,” she expressed.Dada said she has received complaints from young people that reports to the police go unheard or are even met with laughter. ‘Wah wrong with yuh?’ is the question being voiced on the other end of the telephone.According to the behavioural scientist, the victims just take it and sometimes they retaliate since pent up feelings are dangerous.Dada has been in the forefront advocating for the police to take cases of abused boys seriously. “We will lose them because these same young people that are suffering in silence are going to go into adulthood and what sort of men are we going to have? We have 12, 13, 15-year old boys going through abuse, physically, sexually and even emotionally, and they are silent. They cry in silence; they are not telling anybody about it because nobody seems to listen,” she passionately remarked.The problem, she highlighted, is that too often young males fail to make the priority line of major projects designed to target the vulnerable people. This creates a sense of hopelessness among them, Dada opined even as she advocated for the brackets to expand and include boys.“Young males are part of the vulnerable population although they are very silent. Being silent does not mean that they are not part of the vulnerable population. When we design programmes we should include them because the situation is really dire,” she said.“Tip of the iceberg”Experts say too that most abuse is hidden and the available data does not reflect the actual magnitude of the problem. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) Report of 2002, worldwide some 150 million girls and 73 million boys under the age of 18 experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence.The same report said in the Caribbean, 47.6 percent of girls and 31.9 percent of boys reported that their first intercourse was forced or coerced by family members or family acquaintances.Just last week, statistics released by the Childcare and Protection Agency (CPA) revealed a whopping 334 reported cases of child molestation between January and July. Reports have shown that most of the young victims are between the ages of 14 and 18 years old and of the 334 reported cases of sexual abuse, 286 of them were females and 48 were boys.All of these cases, recorded by the agency, have been forwarded to the Guyana Police Force.Director of the CPA, career social worker, Ann Greene, says too that while cases are less prevalent among boys, it is not easy to detect when they are suffering from sexual abuse. She said the 48 reported cases are a far cry from the real picture as she knows there may be many more cases out there; cases that never reached her agency for one reason or the other.“It is not easy for a boy to tell of his abuse. It has to do with the question of identity and perceived manhood. A lot of times boys feel that to tell, people will say that they are gay,” Greene stressed as she reflected on interacti** she has had with countless abused young men over the years.She said oftentimes their primary concern becomes their image and how others view them. The social worker said, too, that families are often ill-equipped to handle the situation. “Most times the children would say, ‘I told my mommy and mom ain’t do anything’,” she expressed.“Sometimes the data does not tell the whole story. Because child abuse, and particularly child sexual abuse is a hidden crime; it is done behind closed doors so what you get may only be the tip of the iceberg,” Greene lamented.One Case Too Many But for the Child Services Director, it cannot be emphasized enough that one case is just one case too many. “No child should be abused,Cheap NFL Jerseys Store,” the career social worker stressed. She has noted, however, that even with underreporting being a factor, the statistics have been on the rise.In the agency’s initial stages, there were hardly any reported cases of sexual abuse being meted out to boys, she said. With more channels now available – like their 24-hour hotlines, the office’s open-door policy and the sensitization efforts across the country – more reports have been forthcoming and Greene’s team has been pulling out all the stops to tackle child sexual abuse.She said too that there had been cases where children come into the Agency or they would confide in their teachers, who work in collaboration with them. The Sexual Offences Act of 2010 is clear, says Greene: individuals below the age of 16 cannot c**ent to sex, whether that person is male or female.Greene explained that young boys that come to her agency are often shy to talk about the experience but eventually they open up. “Teenage boys are worse; they are not willing to talk at all. It is difficult for them and if you do get them to talk,Cheap NFL Jerseys, the follow-up process is difficult. To get them (the abused boys) to court and go into a [witness] box to talk: there is no way.”She said having girls willing to go through the prosecution process is a more likely situation. “The boys would just not want to,” and, according to Greene, it has been affecting the rate of prosecution. But that is not the only problem with the justice system.Too often, cases are dragged out in the courts and rape cases involving boys sometimes take years to be called in the High Court, having had to go through a Magistrate’s Court trial before. “If they are ready to talk now and you wait five or six years and the matter then go to the court when they get older, it is hard.”The fact is the child is trying to heal and cases coming up years later often do more damage than good. The examples of this are many, the Child Services Director lamented. “It is a more traumatic situation for boys,” Greene lamented.According to Greene, the Agency’s efforts have been geared towards rooting out child abuse. Amongst their efforts is community mobilization with the ultimate aim being to establish community watch groups. A campaign expected to be rolled out next year will be moving from mobilizing individuals, to communities and then society at large.Over the years, CPA has partnered with the United Nati** Children Fund (UNICEF) working on the Breaking the Silence: End Child Sexual Abuse campaign. Through this it has joined countries in the region in their efforts to sensitize the public on child sexual abuse.The Break the Silence Initiative, according to Greene, is one which aims to reach victims and their families with a message to speak out and denounce child sexual abuse. The stigma and shame that surrounds the issue of child sexual abuse must be broken, she emphasized.According to UNICEF documents, the initiative is an advocacy platform directed at policymakers, health workers and police authorities to create the protection and treatment services needed to support and care for the victims.The Pain ContinuesEven with the efforts, the pain is not an easy one and healing often begins with talking. For Sam, opening up about the life-changing ordeal helped him move on somewhat. He said he stopped crying about it a long time ago as he has learnt to open up about it.“Opening up to it can be very healing but not everyone is strong to open up,” he said.It took him six years to open up and that was when he met friends on the streets plying the sex trade. “They understood,” Sam said. He explained that the streets are filled with many who had also been abused. Among them, relatives and close friends are often fingered as the perpetrators, he said.However, he admitted that the sexual abuse has definitely affected the person he has become. “Certain things I had wanted to do in my life I didn’t get a chance to do them. I hoped to have a job and a nice, stable life and not to be on the streets,” he said.For 10 years, Sam has been plying his trade at the same spot. No intent on a life-long commitment, Sam said, he dreams of the day she can quit the streets.“I would not say I blame myself for what happened; I would say I was abused,” he firmly stated. “I did not see it coming because you don’t expect these things from people that are nice to you. You think that as a child, they like you. I did not know that that would have happened. At first I was angry then I was depressed. I started to avoid the person,” Sam remembered.He continued, “I still trust people but I am always on the lookout because I know what happened to me one time.” He warns against men who in the eyes of society may seem beyond reproach. Beneath a suit and tie there may be a pedophile. “You just don’t know. You can’t really trust people.”Many outcomes loom for young male who are abused. “Pay more attention to your male children; it is not so easy for them,” Sam said,NFL Jerseys Cheap, his voice cracking.Sam does not stand alone as his cries are those of many little boys who suffer in silence. For Greene, “We will save our children. As everyone says, they are our future, our tomorrow but they are here today. If we don’t look at them today we won’t have them tomorrow. One child at a time; if you save one, you save a generation.”
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