(Trinidad Express) Save the children.
In light of the death of two-year old Aaliyah Johnson, who was allegedly sexually and physically abused, Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development Verna St Rose Greaves yesterday appealed to citizens to be vigilant and take action to save the children who are being abused.
On Easter Sunday, Aaliyah’s unresponsive body was taken to the Siparia hospital.
Hospital authorities contacted the police after the toddler’s body was found to bear marks of violence and sexual abuse. Two relatives have since been held for questioning.
Speaking to the media yesterday during the Senate tea break at Tower D of the Waterfront Centre, St Rose Greaves said Aaliyah’s death was a reminder that there are many children in this country who are living in torture every day.
“It’s a very sad situation, it’s regrettable, we offer our condolences and it’s not just the family, while they may be feeling it, it’s every child in this country,”said St Rose Greaves.
“I’m asking everyone, I am making an appeal to the public, we all have to do our part, the media included, the information must be out there, the education must be out there, the people who are supposed to respond when people make their calls or when they come in…and we are certainly trying to do out part to set up the institutions and the structures and the respite houses that are required, it is not going to happen over night so in the mean time communities must be vigilant, families must be vigilant, we must do our part,” said St Rose Greaves.
Government, she said, cannot do everything.
“I keep saying the children we know about are the ones who die and make it in the media but every day in this country there are many many children who are going through torture and I think we have to wise up as a people and we have to understand that we must work together,” said St Rose Greaves.
She noted that the Government and the Opposition have been working together with respect to legislation to ensure the protection of children and she hopes that it would be fast forwarded and taken through the Parliament.
The Minister said the Children’s Authority is partially up and running and Government was working on setting up institutions and safe houses.
However, she implored that parents and communities must intervene.
Parents, families and neighbours, she said, must look for the signs and move to rescue children from abuse.
“When I heard about this one (Aaliyah’s death), I knew what people would feel but we have been through this so many times and I keep saying all the time, all of us, everyone of us has to be responsible, we have to put our hand in the mix, we as Government have to give the education, we have to teach people what are the signs to look for, who to go to for help, issues of child development, understanding behaviour, supporting mothers so that they don’t go into unsafe situations, so it’s a multiplicity of things. Sometimes I think it is better when we discuss them outside of the anger because you are hearing people who are very very angry and wanting to get violent and so on but I think it must not be a conversation that takes place only when something happens,” said St Rose Greaves.