News Releases

Break the Silence Campaign Statement on Rape of Girls by Teacher and Security Guard

For Release Upon Receipt - January 6, 2023

St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad and Tobago. Wednesday 23 December, 2022. The following is a statement issued by Rhoda Reddock, Professor Emerita of Gender, Social Change and Development on behalf of the Break The Silence (BTS) Campaign coordinated by The Institute for Gender and Development Studies, The University of the West Indies St. Augustine Campus.

 The BTS campaign is appalled at this heinous incident. We continue our call for age-appropriate gender and sexuality training in schools and of sexual abuse awareness training for all teachers and school personnel. Therefore, we support the Concerned Parents Movement's call for introducing sex education into the school curriculum in 2023.

 This was one of our most important recommendations coming out of our in-depth research study on Child Sexual Abuse in Trinidad and Tobago and it continues to be urgent. We noted that structured education of students about sex and sexuality is important to provide young people with an understanding of their bodies and sexualities and empower them to make informed decisions about their social and sexual lives. They should be informed as to how to deal with sexual abuse and incest. Teachers also need to be educated. Many young people obtain their sex education from similarly uninformed peers, predators and the mass media, including television, cinema and social media. However, teachers and principals, we interviewed in Trinidad and Tobago, acknowledge that - despite the normality of early sexual activity among youth in schools and the prevalence of youth disclosing sexual abuse and incest in the school setting - there is no specific or standardized training available on how to conduct sexuality education for children and young people. Parents also asked for workshops on how to speak to their children about sex so, clearly, parents themselves acknowledge their own difficulties in addressing this critical issue with their children.

Earlier research on university students found that no one spoke to boys and young men about sex. They reported learning from peers and “Blue Movies’, while girls, perhaps upon menstruation, but one young woman said she was spoken to at age 18 (Roberts, Reddock Douglas and Reid, 2009)[1].

Our recommendations were shared with policymakers at the time and included the following:

          Sexuality education and ways of teaching about gender and sexualities, including the recognition and management of CSA and incest, and the underlying legal framework, must be compulsory components of all teacher education programmes at the relevant universities in Trinidad and Tobago. For teachers, principals and guidance officers who have already been trained; compulsory follow-up workshops are proposed;

·         If necessary, specially trained teachers could be introduced to work with a number of schools as some teachers have religious predispositions against this or simply don’t feel comfortable;

·         Curricula for sexuality and HIV education must be developed for all children, teachers, parents and other stakeholders involved in the education of children. It must include awareness and prevention of CSA and incest, CSA and incest as a risk factor for HIV/STI;

·         Gender-informed HFLE/Life Skills and sexuality education programmes must include gender-based violence and sexual abuse components; and

·         Children must be taught more about their rights as outlined in the Convention of the Rights of a Child.

I congratulate the Concerned Parents Movement on taking this important stand. We can no longer bury our heads in the sand. Education must inform and empower. We also call for the establishment of a Children's Commissioner or Ombudsperson to oversee the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child of which Trinidad and Tobago is a signatory.


 [1] Sex, Power and Taboo: Gender and HIV in the Caribbean and Beyond: Dorothy Roberts, Rhoda Reddock, Dianne Douglas, Sandra Reid: 9789766373498: Books

 About The University of the West Indies

 The UWI has been and continues to be a pivotal force in every aspect of Caribbean development; residing at the centre of all efforts to improve the well-being of people across the region.

 From a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948, The UWI is today an internationally respected, global university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Monain Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hillin Barbados, Five IslandsinAntigua and Barbuda and itsOpen Campus, and 10 global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.

 The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Culture, Creative and Performing Arts, Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences, and Sport. As the Caribbean’s leading university, it possesses the largest pool of Caribbean intellect and expertise committed to confronting the critical issues of our region and wider world.

 The UWI has been consistently ranked among the top universities globally by the most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education (THE). In the latest World University Rankings 2022, released in September 2021, The UWI moved up an impressive 94 places from last year. In the current global field of some 30,000 universities and elite research institutes, The UWI stands among the top 1.5%.

 The UWI is the only Caribbean-based University to make the prestigious lists since its debut in the rankings in 2018. In addition to its leading position in the Caribbean, it is also in the top 20 for Latin America and the Caribbean and the top 100 global Golden Age universities (between 50 and 80 years old).  The UWI is also featured among the leading universities on THE’s Impact Rankings for its response to the world’s biggest concerns, outlined in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Good Health and Wellbeing; Gender Equality and Climate Action.

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