(CMR) Jamaica's Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) is investigating several cases of 12-year-old girls being pregnant, some with twins, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange revealed last week.
Grange said several of these girls are being provided with assistance by the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation at various locations across the country. However, she told Parliament’s Standing Finance Committee that with the age of the girls, it was a police matter.
The age of consent in Jamaica is 16 years old; therefore, children under 16 can not legally consent to sex.
The Minister explained that once a teen gets pregnant, the Women's Centre is informed, and that girl is provided with the needed support.
“If that young lady turns up at, say, a clinic or hospital, it is reported to us (Women's Centre), so we get reference from CISOCA or the Ministry of Health, and if it comes to our attention before it goes through those processes we will also contact CISOCA,” said Grange said, according to the Jamaica Observer.
Jamaica has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the Caribbean. Teenage pregnancy continues to be a major issue worldwide. A WHO report dated 2020 estimates that 120 million girls aged under 20 years have experienced some form of forced sexual contact. This abuse is deeply rooted in gender inequality; it affects more girls than boys, although many boys are also affected. Estimates suggest that in 2020, at least 1 in 8 of the world’s children had been sexually abused before age 18, and 1 in 20 girls aged 15–19 years had experienced forced sex during their lifetime.