At the time of drafting this article, my brother showed me and my mother, earlier on the way home, a bizarre article headline, I’m assuming from the Trinidad and Tobago Express, about a girl getting pregnant by a 32 year old man shortly after or around the time of the SEA exam.
For those who don’t know, aka readers who aren’t Trini or Tobagonian, that’s the exam to sort primary school students into secondary school. So it’s safe to say she’s anywhere between 10 and 13, given the curve. Most SEA students are 11 and 12, and for a girl that young, that’s pretty early on in her menstruation life. So more than a little harrowing, yeah?
It was bizarre to me, and sad. Now, she has options, yes, but none seem conducive to leading a normal life to me. Abortion – what ifs, and immediate physical risks to one so young. To begin with. Adoption – yes, but she could miss the chance to enter the first year of secondary school with the rest of her year, if she’s allowed to (because Trinidad is still behind on things like this). Raising the child, with help sure, but she’s barely out of primary school, sooooo not ready for that life.
Granted that’s me assuming things, I admit that I didn’t find the article, myself. So I’m entering the fiction world here.
But while I don’t know the facts about that story, I did stumble upon other stories like that in this dear country of mine. Don’t get me wrong. While I’m not gonna declare myself the most patriotic of Trinis, I have to say I can’t just abandon it. Travelling and surviving in foreign has only so much appeal. So it bothers me when things like this come to light, in a place where I choose to call my home base.
I found two other stories. One was about a 17 year old, mother of two, who was arrested for public indecency at Carnival. (Which means it had to be lewd for her to be arrested for that.) During the trial, it was revealed that her firstborn was a result of rape around the time of her writing the SEA exam. The second was just as bad. During this girl’s Standard five year, she was raped by the father of her sister’s child, and threatened to keep quiet. She didn’t know she was pregnant until five months into the pregnancy. That was in January. She’s due to give birth this month, May, while the rest of her class would have been writing the exam (it’s been over for a while, not sure about the baby and its [soon to be] 12 year old mother)
What’s even sadder is that these cases are old and had hardly been circulated. The first 4-5 years old, the second just 2013-14 -the article came out January this year. A follow up article in February revealed that she was willing to give up the child for adoption. Which is good, and good too, that her family and the Ministry of the People’s Family Services Unit are all supporting her.
What’s been done to stop this in Trinidad and Tobago? Not just hear about it, but to prevent it from happening at all? The fact that I have to ask at all makes it worse. I seem to reflect the apathy that plagues us all.
– K. ~