A New Type of Criminal Is Emerging

By Linda E. Edwards

The Laventille Hills east Port of Spain area earned a reputation, deservedly or not, for high crime against persons, drug involvement, gangs, knife fights and shootings and so on, and for years, army and police units have focused on east Port of Spain in an attempt to stamp out “crime”. People are still dying there at a high rate, higher than the norm for the country. Central however, is emerging as the SEX crime capital of the country, for crimes against children.

This week’s quota came from the fifty year old yet to surrender teacher, accused of fondling a six year old in his class. It also came from the father and son businessmen charged with having sex with a twelve year old relative. There was also a report of a physically handicapped girl, a minor, who was being used as a prostitute, “sold” was the word the papers used. Perhaps the last two are the same case.

Going just a bit further back, we had Amy Anamuthodo and Sean Luke, and a bit further back still, the five year old child who was being used as a prostitute by men in the village, Central again.

I want to go back to the 1980’s when the video “Shattered Lives” was made. That movie, and its glaring light on child sexual abuse, came about as the result of a girl in Central committing suicide because of repeated sexual assault by her father, and she not having anywhere to turn. I remember well the concern on the faces of businessmen who attended the initial meetings of the project. They were very uncomfortable with the situation, and recognized that something had to be done. There was a sense of urgency about them.

The committee had talked of getting police officers sensitized to this sort of crime, of working closely – police, social workers and the business community to do something about these horrendous cases. Some of that may be seen now in police and judges responses to reports of these crimes

The businessman charged in the recent ‘father and son’ case of abuse against a relative must have been in his early twenties, and his young son a mere tot when that video was made.

Something has happened to this place, something that has eroded the societal values that most people used to subscribe to. We seem to have gone from aberration to something closer to standard procedure. A frightening situation if ever there was one. In Central, the number of mandirs, temples and churches seem almost to rival the number of houses. Yet, the morality of no sexual tampering with your daughters (The Shattered Lives Case), and not having intimate relations with children seem to stand entirely outside the religious experience.

It is troubling also, that in this section of the country, people seem to know what is going on, and hardly do anything about it, until a glaring case that cannot be ignored hits the headlines. Central is also the place where the Santa Maria Hotel is operated. The owner was charged with bringing in prostitutes from Venezuela for the satisfaction of his customers. The women were just deported. All the men who patronize the place must have known this. Such a place can adversely affect the moral climate of the whole area.

This is not to say that all the recent sex crimes in Central stem from the hotel being there, but certainly it seems to me, that the moral climate has shifted somewhat; has shifted all over the nation, and the world, but Central seems at the weakest point of the fault line. Houses of prostitution, whorehouses, do affect a neighbourhood adversely. Men staggering away from those places could cause decent people to bolt their doors and make sure their daughters are inside. The neighbourhood goes downhill.

So that a teacher in Central is now a fugitive for fondling a six year old, and he was reported to be hiding out at a relative’s house. What does that say about the relative? (The Unabomber’s brother turned him in – USA, a mother who realized that her son had filed a false robbery and kidnapping report, turned him in – San Fernando.) A father and son are charged with jointly using A REALTIVE as a prostitute since she was twelve years old, and Amy’s mother is charged along with her stepfather of sexually abusing a four year old. Add the child prostitute, aged five, being sold by her mother daily in the village, and its time, I think that such stalwarts of sociological analysis in the community as Mary King and Selwyn Ryan, should take up residence in Central, and, armed with support from the Social Welfare Ministry and students from UWI’s sociology classes, attempt to find out just why there is what seems like an epidemic of child sexual abuse in the belly of the country. We sometimes spend a lot of time talking about Caricom and Guyana, while the rice basket of the country, with its newer sources of excess wealth, is going to hell, along with the innocence of our daughters.

4 thoughts on “A New Type of Criminal Is Emerging”

  1. It is interesting to note that as a Trinidad national living in North America the crime rate that some think is indigenous to Trinidad. I understand that crime and the nature of crimes have increased but we as a people have to be brutally honest. This is a global epidemic. What shocks most people I am sure is the frequency, the lawlessness and the viciousness of the crimes reported. Crime existed 20 years ago but it was a different sort of crime and many were unreported or under-reported.
    I am amazed that we have not put in place tougher laws for child molesters, child murderers etc.. It is time to implement tough if not almost “barbaric” punishment for these types of offenders. I am shocked to see Amy Amanathodo’s Mother smiling and acting as though she had a simple traffic violation. Someone needs to permaneantly wipe that smile off her face! And the monster of a man she was with must also pay! How must they pay? Well it is all relative now is it! Killing them does not bring her back nor does it restore the luster of her childhood and her innocence. On the other hand, tax payers dollars should not have to subsidise these monsters.
    We need to think creatively on how to punish people who do the vilest of crimes. We impose tough sentences for drug dealers but frankly the tougher sentences need to be doled out to people like Amy Amanthodo’s mother and all the other scum buckets out there who violate a child…

  2. The crimes of sexual predators are not new. I believe that in the contemporary glare of human rights, the expansion of laws that protect the status of children, and more enlightened scientific research on the process of child development, these crimes against children are viewed as so heinous as to serve as a barometer of the moral bearings of the entire society.

    Thus, incest, carnal knowledge, child prostitution, etc. are shocking to our sensibilities, repulsive to the community and demanding of the highest penalties for the perpetrator.

    The issue of violent crime in Trinidad and Tobago, of which the violation of children is but one species, is multi-dimensional. The Prime Minister has already pronounced the obvious in his assessment of the situation, namely, that only a small segment of the population is engaging in criminal activity. While this is true of all societies, Manning used this as a means of diminishing the significance of any concerted plan to bring crime under control.

    The present crisis–Constitutional– which has been precipitated by Manning’s personal and political agenda against the Chief Justice is a crass demonstration of the lack of respect for law. In Trinidad and Tobago, the Commissioner of Police is defying and questioning a Court Order, under the fig leaf of a “legal opinion” whose author sacrificed his professional pride and essentially advised Paul to be in contempt of court. This same lawyer asked, “who is the chief justice?” This question was meant to prey on the gullibility of the public and elicit a sentiment which says, “no one is above the law and everyone could be arrested.” All of this would be true if the Constitution did not have safeguards that attempt to insulate the judiciary from the dictates and pressures of political institutions and ensure it functions independently.

    Until such a balance is restored, Trinidad and Tobago would be in no position to command its citizens to follow the rule of law. These are the conditions that give birth to anarchy and dictators.

  3. The big question is, why the silence? Is it that we don’t care about what is happening next door and especially to the children? Is the population afraid to challenge individuals who have influence in their community?

  4. Glad that people are reading and commenting. I would be happier when next I read of a crime against a child if the sub-heading said:”Neighbors and Family Turn In Molester.” This is not something that a Prime Minister could legislate, nor an embroiled and now “broke” Chief Justice can deal with. This thing is the business of every citizen of Trinidad and Tobago. Remember it was a teacher who turned in the child prostitution case. It was a teacher in Tobago who turned in another molester, but she was murdered for her pains. Every committed citizen cannot be murdered for standing up for the truth. During the summer when I ran a two-week program for children in East Port of Spain, one case of neglect and abuse , not necessarily sexual, came to my attention through a committed neighbour. My way was clear. I took her to the principal of the school, who turned her over to the counsellor and within an hour, the police was involved. That is what I am talking about. Ordinary citizens standing up for children can make a difference. Each child in the neighbourhood, is your child. Each child in the country is your child. Those two little babies that had an “Andrea Yates” done on them in Valencia are our children.

Comments are closed.