(JAMAICA GLEANER) – More than 400 women and girls were raped across Jamaica this year, including 12-year-old Alexia Parker*.
Now eight months pregnant, Alexia is struggling to come to grips with the reality that her rapist has forever altered her life.
“It wasn’t what I really expected, but I still have to accept it,” said Alexia, who is scheduled to give birth in January, an experience she is not looking forward to.
“The pain that it takes to push and have a baby,and after all of that the long staying up at nights, then having to go to school and study and all of that hard work.”
Alexia was raped at her house a few minutes after her mother left her in the company of her two siblings and stepfather to go to the shop. Feeling that she would be safe while he went to take a shower at his sister’s house nearby, her stepfather left her with her brother and sister.
But shortly after, tragedy struck.
“I heard my cousin calling me and I went outside and went to her, and after I was coming back inside I felt someone put their hand over my mouth and started to choke me with a piece of something around my neck, and that person started to draw me on the ground. I couldn’t scream; my mouth was covered,” recounted Alexia of her ordeal.
She was threatened by her attacker, who vowed that he would kill her mother and other members of her family if she screamed, and with the cold blade of a knife pressed against her neck, she didn’t doubt that he would make good on his words.
Scared to talk
After the horrendous ordeal, Alexia had to next contemplate how she would share what happened with her mother, knowing that she could be putting her life at risk by saying anything at all.
“Afterwards, I was still worried. I was traumatised and I was wondering what I should say to my mother. I wanted to tell her and I was scared. I did say it to her in the end, but the way she reacted, she was upset [but] not at me,” Alexia told The Sunday Gleaner.
“She had this nervous breakdown, and for me to be standing and looking at my mother in that situation was hard, and I didn’t want to have to see her in that condition,” she added.
Ward of the state
Alexia is now a ward of the state, and her case was investigated by the authorities and the alleged attacker held, but she did not want to address that as she is trying to focus on her baby.
According to data from the Jamaica Constabulary Force, there were 429 reported rape cases in Jamaica between January 1 and December 16, 2017. Police statistics also reveal that 511 girls under 16 experienced sexual violations between January 2016 and February 2017.
With the alarming number of sexual offences cases flooding the courts, Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn revealed last week that plans are being made to establish a dedicated court to deal with these cases.
According to the country’s chief prosecutor, 423 sex-related cases were still down for trial when the Home Circuit Court closed its Michaelmas term recently. These include 240 for the offence of sexual intercourse with a person under 16 years old, 90 rapes, 25 incest and 20 for buggery.
*Name changed on request