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United Nations: ‘Bring Paedophiles and Enablers to Book!’

Jamaica on Track to End Mother-Child Transmission of HIV

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Living with HIV

I was 27 years old when I found out I was HIV positive.

“I remember one night I had nightmares of someone running me down and calling me names. I said to myself ‘Why don’t I just end it? I don’t know if I can live with this thing.’ Persons in my communities said things about me. They called me names. All of that was going through my head. I said to myself ‘I don’t want to live anymore.’ There were these demons inside me and they would attack me, especially at nights. I would be up to midnight each night, so afraid that I would just go to sleep and die. I would sit outside and drink, I drank a lot of rum. I cried daily. I cried and cried. What was really hard for me was I didn’t want my mom to come to where I was living because people in the community would say things to her. I thought if I disclosed to my mom, she might just die.”

“After meeting Eve for Life, all of that changed. [Oral suggested she talk to them]. I was always timid, I didn’t want to go to the doctor. Never, ever. I would go to the health centre in St. Ann’s Bay (far away from her community) to see the doctor. I had a nice doctor and she was kind to me, but she was always busy, so I fell into depression. The pills weren’t working, I was still having nightmares. One night I cut my wrists. I sat in the tub watching them bleed. I heard a voice in my head saying ‘Why? There’s so much life has to offer. I got up and wrapped my wrists. I didn’t say anything to anybody.’”

[Debbie was sent to see a psychiatrist who advised she double her medications]. “I wasn’t taking them the way I should. They made me feel in and out, so I stopped taking them. I threw them away. When I remembered about my son, it just hit me. I said ‘What am I really doing to myself?’ God sent Eve for Life when I was going through all of that.”

“I didn’t know what to expect when I went to meet Eve for Life. I was just told they would help me. They asked me what I knew about reproductive health and HIV. When they said “HIV”, I sighed. Auntie Joy said ‘You can talk to me’ and Auntie Pat said ‘You can do it’. They reminded me that there are people out there who really care. After that I started meeting people who were sharing their stories. I was so motivated. I wouldn’t cry anymore.”

“Now I accept myself because I have to do that in order to survive. The only way to take care of myself is to accept myself. Every day I just motivate myself because I’m living. I have now been 12 years without medication and I am doing well. I didn’t know I would reach here.”

“I am passionate about helping persons going through their situations. I take them into my home and talk to them. I have been there and I know what some of them are going through. When the hope comes, it seems life returns to the body. I just want to give that back to other persons. I want to give back life.”

“I accept each day as a challenge, and when I do that, I find the solution.”



United Nations: ‘Bring Paedophiles and Enablers to Book!’

KINGSTON, 18 March 2015 – The United Nations (UN) in Jamaica is urging the nation to take a zero tolerance approach to the crisis of paedophiles preying on children.

UN agencies working on the issue – UNFPA, UNICEF, UNDP, UNAIDS, UN Women and UNESCO -said the recent cases reported by the media point to the long-standing and deeply alarming issue of sexual abuse facing children, and adolescent girls in particular, in Jamaica.

Key statistics underscore the horrific scale of the problem:

·         In 2013, the total number of sexual abuse cases reported to the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) was 3,386. Of these, 92% were girls, and more than half of the cases were carnal abuse (sex with children under 16 years of age).

·         According to data from the National Reproductive Health Survey 2008, 34 percent of adolescent girls reported that their first sexual encounter was coerced, that is their first experience of sexual intercourse was an act of rape.  

·         According to the latest national data, 1 in every 5 five sexually active Jamaican girls, aged 15-19 years, has reported being forced to have sex.

·         Recent research indicates that only 1 in 10 adult Jamaicans report cases of child abuse, including sexual abuse, despite knowing about the abuse.

“Efforts to prevent and reduce teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and sexual violence against children are severely compromised when individuals and communities fail to report cases of abuse and when predators are not prosecuted with urgency,” said Arun Kashyap, the UN Resident Coordinator.

Kashyap also said pointing fingers at victims is unacceptable. “Sex with children is always a form of abuse. The children are never to blame.”

In addition to supporting various government initiatives (including development of policies and legislation) to  protect the rights of girls, the UN agencies have, since last year, been supporting a new initiative by non-governmental organization EVE for Life to address the challenges of sexual violence within select communities in St. Ann, St. James and Westmoreland.

The programme, called “Nuh Guh Deh”, will focus on urging these communities to take specific actions to prevent the covering up of sexual activities with children and to hold perpetrators accountable. “Nuh Guh Deh” was officially launched on November 25, 2014 in recognition of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, as part of the UN Agencies “UNITE” campaign, which aims to address the global pandemic of violence against women and girls. On that occasion UN Agencies in Jamaica gave a public commitment to the “Nuh Guh Deh” campaign, which aims to increase awareness about the long term physical, emotional, financial, health and social consequences of sexual abuse of young girls and the links to HIV. It is expected that a key outcome will be to mobilise Jamaicans to report acts of violence against girls.

“Nuh Guh Deh” emerged from EVE for Life’s extensive experience working with young survivors of sexual violence, many of whom became pregnant and also contracted HIV as a result of this violence. The support provided has empowered and enabled many survivors to break free of the violence and abuse. The UN is confident that this programme will help mobilise Jamaicans to report on sexual violence against girls.





Jamaica on Track to End Mother-Child Transmission of HIV

Kingston, Jamaica, Feb 9, 2015 — Jamaica is on track to be among the first countries in the world to reach the targets for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.  The country’s situation will be confirmed later this month, once the Ministry of Health submits its country report to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

UNAIDS acknowledged this major progress following a meeting with Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, in Kingston last week. Minister Ferguson said “Jamaica has made good progress especially in the areas of the prevention of mother to child transmission and the availability and use if anti-retroviral drugs. The Government is moving towards ownership of the HIV Programme and has put in place several initiatives towards this including the integration of the National HIV/STI Programme with the National Family Planning Board to create one sexual reproductive health authority, the purchase of ARVs through GOJ budget and undertaking a sustainability study of the national programme.”  Dr. Ferguson added that “under the leadership of Dr. Kevin Harvey, the current Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Jamaica has come a far way in preventing the transmission of HIV to babies, from 10% HIV transmission rate in 2004 to less than 2% by 2012.”

He acknowledged the significant contribution made by the Jamaica Paediatric, Perinatal and Adolescent HIV/AIDS (JaPPAAIDS) Program under the leadership of Professor Celia Christie, as well as the support from the Technical Oversight Committee for EMTCT which receives support from international partners; UNAIDS, UNICEF and PAHO.

Jamaica’s success in lowering the rate of HIV transmission in children to below 2% is being attributed to Government’s investments, improved collaboration between national, regional and international agencies, as well as partnerships involving the public health sector, private doctors, hospitals and laboratories. This progress in preventing HIV among children joins other gains of the Jamaica AIDS response including a 43% decline in AIDS-related deaths over the last decade and a 25% reduction in new HIV infections. Jamaica has increasingly demonstrated interest through its leadership and investments in the programme to prevent HIV transmission to babies.

“This is a remarkable achievement; it shows leadership and commitment to ensure that no Jamaican child is born HIV positive,” said Dr. Ernest Massiah, Director of the UNAIDS Caribbean Regional Support Team.




Press Releases

Tivoli: First Stop for ‘Talk Up Yout’ School Tour
Students at Tivoli Gardens High will be the first to speak their minds on the ‘Talk Up Yout’ school tour that kicks off today.

New Leadership for UNICEF Jamaica
KINGSTON, 21 August, 2013 – UNICEF Jamaica welcomes the appointment of Mr. Mark Connolly to the post of Representative.

Two Journeys to One Friendship
At age 12, only one person knew Itisha’s painful secret. Her grandmother was a silent witness, making her uncle an empowered rapist.

UNICEF Awards Teens for Outstanding Creativity
The winners of UNICEF’s I-CREATE Visual Arts Contest were awarded their prizes on Monday, March 11 at Studio 174 in Kingston.

UNICEF’S Deputy Executive Director Visits Children in Jamaican Prison
On her first visit to Jamaica, UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director, Ms. Geeta Rao Gupta, heard first-hand from children detained at the Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centre, the island’s only prison for women.

UNICEF to Tackle Western Woes of Education
UNICEF and partners will be working to increase school attendance rates and provide educational opportunities for children who are out of school.

Young and Restless Youth Leadership: My Generation’s Efforts
Shevon Davis is an adolescent from Trench Town, Kingston. He spoke at the International AIDS Conference on July 23rd in Washington D.C.

Violence, Economic Crisis Threaten to Reverse Progress for Children
Persistent violence, the fallout of the economic crisis and other major threats to childhood are putting Jamaica’s progress for children in jeopardy, warns the Office of the Children’s Advocate and UNICEF in a new report released today.

Children Speak Out On School Drop-Outs, Child Abuse at Child Research Conference
For the first time in the four-year history of the Caribbean Child Research Conference, only children will take the podium at the one-day confab.

Caribbean Education Experts Meet on Child Friendly Schools
Over 50 education experts from across the Caribbean are converging in Jamaica to determine the best strategies to make schools more child friendly.

UNICEF Calls for Continued Efforts to Reduce Maternal Mortality in Jamaica
UNICEF today said that the Jamaican government must continue stepping up its effort to lower the country’s rate of maternal mortality.

Issues on Child Sexuality and Violence to Take Center Stage at Third Caribbean Child Research Conference
Against the background of the crisis facing the nation’s children, the latest research on violence against children, child sexuality, parenting and other pressing issues concerning children’s rights will be unveiled on October 21-22, 2008

UNICEF Applauds Government for Tackling Crisis Facing Children
UNICEF today applauded the Government of Jamaica for taking decisive action to prevent and curb the alarming and increasingly heinous crimes being committed against the nation’s children.

Schools Gear Up to Protect Children During Hurricane Season
As Jamaica prepares for hurricane season, schools most vulnerable to damage are being stocked with emergency supplies to help ensure the continuation of children’s schooling in the event of disaster.

Gun Control an Urgent Priority for Jamaica, United Nations Agencies Say
UNICEF and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today called for increased effort by all stakeholders to stem the illegal flow and use of small arms in Jamaica, saying gun control ― combined with long-term social interventions ― are critical.

Former Child Soldier to Jamaican Children: Don't Be Defeated by Violence
Wrapping up his first mission as UNICEF’s Advocate for Children Affected by War, former child soldier Ishmael Beah today said that Jamaican children need more opportunities, support and hope to resist and rise above violence.

Mitigating the Impact of Armed Violence on Children and Communities: What Works?
Several Caribbean and Central American countries have called for an expansion of social interventions as a critical way to crack down on the high levels of armed violence affecting their nations.

Global Expert on Violence Urges Jamaican Parliament to Focus on Children
A leading authority on violence against children today pressed Parliamentarians to concentrate on the plight of children in Jamaica’s effort to break the cycle of violence affecting the country.

Why Jamaica Needs to Invest in Young Lives
Concerned about the stagnation of Jamaica’s child mortality rate, UNICEF said today that the prospect of living beyond the age of five still escapes far too many Jamaican children.

Jamaica included: UNICEF, Special Olympics Champion Cause of Children with Intellectual Disabilities
UNICEF and Special Olympics International to work together, to advocate for health care, education, recreational sports and employment policies that will benefit children with intellectual disabilities.

UNICEF Jamaica Project Officer wins Young Investigator Prize for AIDS research
UNICEF Jamaica Project Officer is first winner of Young Investigator Prize for AIDS Research in women and girls, awarded by International AIDS Society

Young, Gifted and Violence Free - 92 young people trained as peace facilitators to serve in 50 communities across Jamaica
UNICEF supports Dispute Resolution Foundation in training of young peace facilitators from 50 communities across Jamaica as part of Xchange movement

Social Investment for Children Initiative Launched in Jamaica
Government, UN bodies and NGO collaborate to launch Social Investment Initiative for Children in Jamaica. Aims to build national capacity to ensure social investment for children is consistent with national priorities

Education Ministry holds Lesson for Life Competition to mark World AIDS Day
Lesson for Life campaign 2005 builds HIV/AIDS awareness among Jamaican schoolchildren and is a part of World AIDS Day activities.

Ministry of Health, UNICEF, UNFPA and PAHO Unite to Reduce Maternal Mortality and Morbidity among Women
UNICEF assists in efforts to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality in Jamaica by supporting a National Conference on Safe Motherhood - 2005

Global Campaign on Children and AIDS launched in New York : Jamaican Kerrel McKay shines at event
Kerril McKay represents Jamaican youth affected by HIV/AIDS at the launch of the Global Campaign on Children and AIDS in New York in 2005.

Jamaican to chair launch of UN Global Campaign on Children and AIDS
Miss Kerrel McKay, 20 year old AIDS activist and member of the Portland AIDS Committee to chair the launch of a five-year old Global Campaign on Children and AIDS

UNICEF decries killing of children in gang warfare in Jamaica
UNICEF expresses abhorrence and shock at the brutal killing of 10-year old Sasha-Kay Brown and notes with deep concern the sinister and disturbing trend of involving children in revenge killings and gang-related killings

AIDS Protection In A Bus: Jamaica launches mobile service for 5,000 young people
Bashment Bus uses music and drama to provide AIDS information and mobile reproductive health service to young Jamaicans along major routes and in hard-to-reach places

UNICEF and PAHO's "booster shot" to Jamaica's Immunization Efforts
UNICEF Jamaica donates vehicles and equipment to the immunisation programme of the Ministry of Health

UNICEF Jamaica lauds steps to establish post of Children's Advocate in the island
News release commending the efforts of the Jamaican Government and Child Development Agency to establish the post of Children's Advocate which help in the implementation of the Child Care and Protection Act

Jamaican Youth participate in "One Minute for My Rights" video workshop in Suriname
Two young Jamaicans participated in a One Minute for My Rights video training workshop held in Suriname earlier this year, and organised by UNICEF and the Sandberg Insitute of the Netherlands.

Expo, Concert mark the Jamaican launch of the Xchange anti-violence movement
News release on the local launch of the Xchange anti violence movement with an expo and concert in Emancipation Park, Kingston, May 28, 2005

Youth In Action - UNICEF Jamaica and Partners Organise National Youth and HIV Forum
News release on "Youth In Action" a national forum to highlight and youth participation in efforts to prevent and manage HIV/AIDS, organised by UNICEF and partners in 2004.

Caribbean Broadcast Media join partnership on HIV/AIDS as part of Global Mobilization of Media
Ford Foundation, Elton John AIDS Foundation and Kaiser Family Foundation give one million to Caribbean Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS



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