Director of the Department of Gender Affairs, Celia Christopher

Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 06, 2020 (SKNIS): The Department of Gender Affairs has been advocating for perpetrators of child sex offences to be prosecuted by the state instead of parents or guardians making the choice on whether or not to press charges.

“We have been advocating over the years to take the parents out of it and make it the state against the perpetrator,” said Director of the Department, Celia Christopher, while appearing on Wednesday’s, March 04, edition of the radio and television show “Working for You.”

“When you do that, nobody can help you, even if you want to pay money it doesn’t make any sense because you still have to answer for the crime you committed. I hope we can get to that point because these girls who are getting pregnant, they are children themselves. So you have children looking after children.”

Mrs. Christopher stated that there are a number of girls who get pregnant every year by older men. She stated that laws are already in place and that they should be enforced.

“I’m not saying to lock up everybody because lock up may not be the answer, but there are laws which need to be enforced, but sometimes even if you have the laws to enforce you still have the issue of dealing with parents,” she said. “We live in a society that if we want to turn our head, that’s okay, but we know what is happening why some of those cases don’t even reach to court and therein lies the problem. You can prosecute all you want, the girls are still minors and if the parents don’t agree there is nothing you can do.”

The director stated that many of the young mothers have poor parenting skills. This, she said, starts in their own homes.

“They can’t parent properly and so you have a lot of spinoff on a lot of problems coming from that. Of course everybody wants to help, yes, but then even…if there are organizations and churches and other people in society want to help it all goes back to the parents of these children,” said Mrs. Christopher. “You have these children who are giving problems and you call the PTA meetings. The very parents who you want to reach they are not going to show up and you cannot get them to counselling.”

The Director of Gender Affairs said that it is hoped that the magistrates crack down on getting parents and these young girls to receive counselling.

“I am hoping that the magistrates begin to put down some stern orders in terms of getting some of these people to go to counselling because even if you tell them to go to counselling, they probably will go once or twice and they just not bother with you all and then the problem continues,” she said. “Then, other government ministries have to find money to accommodate them because they need social assistance and all of that. So, we really have to do something about some of these things that are happening.”