Sexual Abuse Against Girls And Boys In The Caribbean


Child Sexual Abuse: Definition

Child sexual abuse is a pattern of behaviours with cumulative impacts on the victim/survivor as it continues,

damaging the individual’s emotional well-being. (Eldemire 1986, 1991)

Sexual abuse is a violent molestation induced through threat or force including rape during which there is attempted or successful oral, anal, or vaginal penetration of the child. The issue of prostitution is classified under child sexual exploitation for the purpose of profit and may include use of the child for the creation of pornographic material.

CSA: Definition

Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation.

CSA: Central characteristics

Victims: Children and adolescents (boys and girls)

Perpetrators : Male and female (adults) and abuse by peers (children)

Consensual or no consensual

Dominant position

Violent and non violent (force, coerce or deceit)

Physical contact (touching) and no physical (noncontact)


CSA: Forms

Masturbation, oral-genital contact, digital penetration

Vaginal and anal intercourse

Touching and fondling of child’s body (genitals and anus) or touching the breasts of pubescent females, etc.

Child’s touching the sexual portions of a partner’s body

Sexual kissing

Penetration (penile, vagina mouth or anus, etc.)

Exposing children to sexual activity (pornographic movies and photographs)

Having children pose (exhibitionism)


Grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet).

Situation in the Caribbean: Studies

“ Intra-familiar abuse is a problem in all CARICOM countries; incest seems to be endemic”

“Child sexual abuse is rampant in every CARICOM country, children are most at risks in settings where they are meant to be protected”

“Child sexual abuse is endemic in the Caribbean region and large numbers of children are believed to be affected”

“Child sexual abuse is a cause of great concern in the Caribbean region.”

The situation in the Caribbean: Statistics

First sexual experience of young girls is frequently forced (42.8% of girls younger than 12)

CSA occurs across all social, economic and age groups in homes, schools, other institutions and on the street

CSA often begins when the child is below 10 and continues throughout a child’s adolescence

Most reported victims are girls; in the region, there is a rise of CSA against boys

Most children are abused by a trusted and known adult

Most child sexual abuse is committed by adult men

Children with disabilities have experienced higher levels of sexual abuse than children from the general population.

Legal framework: Harmonization

Progressive and lengthily process

Disparate and archaic laws (civil and penal)

 Legislation to prohibit production , possession and dissemination of child pornography

Slow reform of the Justice system


Law of evidence not conducive to the protection of children – Often results in a denial of justice for children who have been abused

Court Testimony

Procedure (length etc.)

Legal framework: National legislation

Laws prohibiting and sanctioning: incest, sexual offences (rape etc.)

Definition of childhood (age) – Difference for boys and girls

All forms of sexual abuse and incest

Definition (do not include biological parents, siblings etc. consent)

 Anti-social behaviour – Uncontrollable

Establishment of institutions/entities responsible for enforcing laws on

sexual offences (mechanisms for reporting, protocols etc.)

 Reporting and enforcement mechanisms


 Status of a child


Parents-children communication (corporal punishment)

Legal framework: Who is a child?

In vast majority of cases, the age of majority in CARICOM countries is 18 years

The minimum age of criminal responsibility is very varied in the region (7 to average 13)

Age of consent for marriage is 18 in seven CARICOM countries (from 12 to 21) – distinction for boys and girls

The age of consent for sexual activity is 16 in eleven CARICOM countries (distinction for boys and girls)

Varying definitions of “child”, “juvenile” and “young persons” throughout national legislation.

Access to justice

Mandatory testing for cases for a sexual offence that can result in the transmission of a communicable disease.

Defense of reasonable or honest belief (consent)

Requirement that child’s evidence to be corroborated

Exclusion of the public from hearings on child sexual abuse (limited cases)

Video-recordings used only in few countries

Protection and removal orders for children who are abused sexually

No special procedures for child sexual abuse (not sensitive)

Violence in the home: Domestic Violence

All CARICOM countries have a law on the protection against domestic violence (except Haiti):

However, three Caribbean countries are among the top 10 for reported incidences of rape.

All Caribbean countries have higher than the global average for rape.

Domestic violence is rampant and not acknowledge as a serious issue

Often considered as a women’s issue: something that women bring upon themselves for not dressing right or doing “the right things.”

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