(Jamaica Observer) Between 2013 and 2018, a total of 22 women were arrested for having sexual intercourse with boys under 16 years old. At the same time, 129 boys under the age of 16 were the victims of sexual assault for the same period.
In fact, according to data from the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF’s) Statistics and Information Management Unit, between 2013 and 2018 a total of 53 females were arrested for sexual assault, of which 33 were arrested for the offence of sexual intercourse with a victim under the age of 16.
Also, up to March 9 this year, one female has been arrested for having sexual intercourse with a male under 16 years old.
The Jamaica Observer spoke with several adult men who recounted their first time having sex, most of whom did not consider their encounters as sexual abuse.
According to one 30-year-old who is now the father of two children, he had sex for the first time at 12 years old with his aunt, who was babysitting him.
“I didn’t know what was going on. It was just like, ‘Oh, anybody ever touched you there before?’ I said, ‘No’. She said: ‘Do you want me to?’. I said, ‘I don’t know’, and she did.
“And just as the act was going on, she was like, ‘I think you would like it’. So I didn’t see it as abuse,” the father of two recounted. “I was coerced into doing it and after it happened I got addicted to sex… especially during my teenage years… I wanted to have sex as often as I could and I wanted to try new things and was almost insatiable at the time for women,” he shared. “It was not until later on that I realised what really happened to me.”
He said that while in high school, boys would trade stories about their sexual encounters, and quite a few of his friends shared that their first time was with their domestic helper or a relative.
“It was almost common, and [back] then, it was seen like a bragging right. But it was not until I was at university that I recognised that this was abuse,” he said, adding that as a parent, he limits the people who are allowed to babysit his children.
One 62-year-old shared that he lost his virginity at age 14 to a woman who was in her 20s.
He, too, did not think he was sexually abused, but viewed the experience as an encounter that led to sexual satisfaction.
Another man, who is now 31 years old, told the Observer that he first had sexual intercourse at age 17 with a woman who was 21 years old. He also did not consider it sexual abuse or sexual exploitation and today credits his level of experience and sexual prowess to that early exposure.
Under Article 34 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Jamaica signed and ratified, governments should protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse. Article 1 of the same convention defines a ‘child’ as a person below the age of 18, unless the laws of a particular country set the legal age for adulthood younger.
Under the Child Care and Protection Act in Jamaica, a child is anyone under the age of 18. Also, one of the protections afforded to children under the Act is protection from sexual abuse, for example when an adult, including family members, molests a child or has sex with a child.
The results of a Ministry of Health survey, scheduled to be released on Thursday this week, will show that more than 20 per cent of Jamaican boys have engaged in their first act of sexual intercourse by age 12.
The ministry’s 2017 Knowledge, Attitude, Behaviour, and Practice (KAPB) Survey will show that 22.3 per cent of boys reported having engaged in sex by age 12.
A similar study was done in the United States and published in JAMA Pediatrics last month. It revealed that between 3.6 per cent and 7.6 per cent of boys reported having sexual intercourse before the age of 13.
A total of 7.6 per cent of the nearly 20,000 high school males in one study reported having sexual intercourse before the age of 13 as reported by Agence France-Presse. In the second study — of 7,700 males between the ages of 15 and 24 years old — the figure was 3.6 per cent.
In the United States, the prevalence of boys having sexual intercourse before the age of 13 varied by race, ethnicity, and geographic location, with non-Hispanic black and Hispanic male adolescents more likely than their white peers to have had sexual relations before becoming teenagers.
The launch of the full KAPB Survey will show the high-risk behaviour of young people. The survey also looked at other variables, including multiple sex partners, casual sex, transactional sex, and low-condom use.
According to the survey, when it comes to the age of sexual initiation, boys outstrip girls, with only 2.2 per cent of girls reported having engaged in sexual intercourse for the first time by age 12.
The median age for first sex among boys is 15 years versus 17 years for girls, with the figures in the 2017 KAPB survey remaining largely unchanged since 2012.
In the meantime, the statistics from the JCF also revealed that between 2013 and 2018 there were 489 male victims of sexual assault under 18 years old. The year 2013 recorded the highest number of victims at 110, with 2018 recording 36 victims.
The offences against the boys over the six-year period include buggery, grievous sexual assault, incest, sexual exploitation, sexual grooming, sexual intercourse with a person under 16, and sexual touching or interference.