“I love she and I can’t give she away,” she said, as she continued to look at the one-month-old infant.
Under any other circumstances, I would have nodded my head eagerly in agreement but I could only look at her sadly and attempt to hide my tears.
She is 14 years old and the man who had raped her repeatedly, committed suicide days after she revealed his horrific acts. I spoke to her at the Child Care and Protection Agency office and it was one of the most difficult conversations I have ever had; this piece was just as hard to write. While I am aware that girls are being raped my conversation with her left me numb for quite some time.
“Some nights I don’t get to sleep good because I have to get up in the night and nurse she. But me foster mother does help me,” she said, breaking the silence.
I asked her, maybe insensitively, if she thought about allowing the baby girl to be adopted.
“No I don’t want that because I love she and I don’t want to give she away. I don’t want what happen to me happen to she,” she said after a pause.
I wanted to tell her that she was hardly in a position to take care of her baby girl, but said nothing.
“I does get help, you know. My foster mother does help me so is not me alone,” she said as if reading my mind. “But I want to go back to school and get an education and become a good person,” she continued.
I felt it was my duty to inform her that she was not a bad person and she smiled. It was only one of the many smiles she shared during the conversation; I couldn’t smile back at her.
I asked her about her mother.
“I miss my mother. She does come by my foster mother and help take care of the baby in the day and go back home,” she answered.
I asked if she was angry with her mother.
“No, I don’t feel angry with her I love my mother. I don’t feel it is her who mek this happen to me,” she said.
I knew the answer to this question but I still asked, ‘How did you get pregnant?’ and before she answered she gave me another of those smiles.
“I get rape,” she said simply. “My stepfather rape me and then he kill he self,” she continued.
“The first time it happen me mother was in a next bedroom and me and me brother was in a room on a top and bottom bunk. Me went on de bottom and he come in and tell me not to say anything and he tek off me clothes and he rape me. He tell me don’t tell me mother and I been frighten so I never tell she and then he start doing it again and again,” she said.
This time she did not smile, but she did not cry either. Instead she clutched the baby a little tighter.
I asked her if she hated the man.
“Sometimes. I use to hate him, but he then he use to treat we nice. He use to carry we out and so and treat we nice,” she said.
I asked how the authorities found out about the rape.
“Is a day at school, we had assembly and a teacher call me and carry me to the office with the headmistress and dem ask me who interfering with me and I start cry. But a tell them is me stepfather. They ask because me skirt deh get tight and me belly been showing, me skirt couldn’t button up anymore,” she said.
“They call in the welfare people and me mother and dem bring me to this office and I talk about wha happen,” she continued.
I asked what her mother said when she heard.
“She didn’t say nothing really,” she responded. “She just say how me big sister in America say how she guh tek care of me and de baby and how she didn’t know he [the rapist] woulda do something like duh.
“But she been suspect how I de pregnant because she tell me big brother and he say he would buy a pregnancy test but dem never buying it. And she tell me stepfather how she think I pregnant and he say he think suh to but he still use to come and rape me.”
I looked away and discreetly dried my tears.
“Sometimes I use to feel like to run away but I never do it,” she continued.
“After dem put me in a home me mother come and tell me how he [the rapist] kill he self and I cry.”
I asked her why she cried.
“I cry because he use he use to treat we good and I know wha he does wrong but I still cry,” she said sadly.
At this point the little bundle in her arms started to cry and she attempted to breastfeed her. It was a bit of a struggle but she eventually got it right after several tries.
“I don’t want she to go through what I went through,” she said again as she looked at the baby girl.
I asked her about the birthing process.
“I didn’t feel too much pain,” she related. “At first I feel pain and I thought was turning pain so I bathe and went and lie down. Then I tell dem in de home I feeling in pain and dem call me mother and den carry me to the hospital. And when I meet at de hospital is just like two push and de baby come out. I didn’t feel plenty pain.
“God was good to me. I use to pray a lot, you know, and me mother use to pray for me every night. I want to go back home with me mother,” she said almost pleadingly.
I did not know how to respond and instead and took the baby out of her arms and tenderly held her.
“You have to belch her,” she instructed me.
I held the baby for a while and we sat in silence.
I looked from mother to daughter and I felt sorrowful. After a while I indicated to the case worker that the interview was over and the 14-year-old happily took her baby and returned to her foster mother who was close by.
Director of Child Care Ann Greene indicated that the state is paying for the child and her baby to be in foster care.
“Right now we cannot send her back to her mother because from our investigation the mother exposed her to the danger that resulted in her being raped and we cannot be certain that it would not happen again,” Greene said when asked whether the child would be returned to her mother’s care.
Asked about the baby possibly being adopted Greene responded: “We cannot force her to put the child up for adoption we have to support her right now and that is what we are doing. Right now it might seem easy for her but when she has to go back to school and all that she may think differently.”
As I left the agency my heart was breaking and I could not help but think about the future of that child and her baby. Why is this world so cruel? There is no answer to that question but what I do know is that Guyana needs to do more to protect our boys and girls, we all should be involved in this fight.
If you know of a child who is being abused please call the Child Care and Protection Agency 24-hour hotline on 227-0979. Please follow-up and ensure that the agency intervenes and the child receives the help needed.