THE Trinidad and Tobago Police Service is asking schools and hospitals to report incidents of teenage pregnancies to better arm officers with enough information to investigate and prosecute in possible cases of statutory rape and/or sexual assault.
This according to Insp Wayne Mystar, of the Police Service’s Communications Unit, as he addressed reporters yesterday following the service’s weekly police press briefing at its Port of Spain headquarters.
On Tuesday, Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh disclosed that there were over 2,500 teen pregnancies a year, most of them for fathers in the 25-to-40-years age group.
He described it as a “frightening” situation, as the minister responded to questions filed by Independent Senator Dr Victor Wheeler in the Senate on Tuesday.
Gopeesingh said the country had to get a handle on the issue of statutory rape because this teenage pregnancy situation cannot continue.
“If people (fathers) are apprehended, there might be fear among the perpetrators, and therefore it could serve as a deterrent to statutory rape,” he said.
Insp Mystar explained yesterday, “Once the matter has been reported we will deal with it, and we are asking schools and hospitals to assist us in this regard because these are crimes that have to be brought to court.”
Asked, however, about those girls who were threatened by their attackers following an incident of rape or sexual assault, Insp Mystar replied, “Whether this young person gives consent or not, once she is under the age it is an offence.”
Asked about a sexual offenders database and if there is one, Insp Mystar replied, “I can’t comment on that right now.”
In 2012, however, there was a proposal for such and in April 2012 then deputy commissioner of police Mervyn Richardson said work had begun in establishing a sexual offenders database. At the time, he noted it would strictly be for use by “law-enforcement personnel and would not be accessible to members of the public”.
Minister Gopeesingh’s disclosure comes on the heels of a news story from south Trinidad last week, where a 12-year-old primary school pupil became pregnant after she was allegedly raped by the father of her sister’s child. The suspect then threatened to kill her if she told anyone.
The incident occurred in Princes Town and the matter was reported to the Princes Town Police Station on January 9, but by that time she was already five months’ pregnant.
Relatives however complained they were not satisfied with the police response.
A relative said of the Standard Five pupil told reporters last week, “The 12-year-old girl has an older sister with a baby. The older sister and the child’s father are separated, but he asked if they can spend a weekend with him at his house. The older sister asked the 12-year-old to go with her to the man’s house in Princes Town. That was where she was assaulted.”
A police report stated the child’s older sister and the baby were asleep when the 25-year-old man assaulted her.
The relative of the child continued, “He told her he would kill her if she told anyone. And he said if the girl’s mother found out, she would put her out of the house. She was traumatised and afraid to tell anyone.”
The Ministry of the People has begun to give the 12-year-old several counselling sessions and the baby is going to be given up for adoption when born.