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Government purchases building to house abused girls

Minister Delma Thomas - 'We have the keys and the title deed'

The Keith Mitchell-led government has purchased a property in St. George’s to be used as a home for abused girls on the island.

In making the announcement at Tuesday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, Social Development Minister, Delma Thomas said that government now has the keys and title deed for the property but declined to give details about its location for security reasons.

“The security of our girls is important. Just like we would not want to tell you where we house women who are abused, we would not want to say to you where we are housing the girls who are abused”, the minister told reporters assembled at the Ministerial Complex at the Botanical Gardens.

“…We have a facility that we have just purchased…because … we have families and troubled people who will go to hunt them down and we do not want that…we have to protect our children at all cost…”, she said.

Legal sources told THE NEW TODAY that a former Attorney-General with government recently filed some title deeds in the Supreme Court Registry for properties in the Lagoon Road in St. George’s.

According to Minister Thomas, the government is committed to protecting the nation’s girls from sexual abuse which in often times takes place in the home involving fathers and step fathers.

 “A lot of times we want to remove them (the girls) from the home, but we don’t have anywhere to put them and sometime the Child Protection (Authority) remove them from the home and they put them somewhere else and then you hear they are re-raped,” she said.

According to Minister Thomas, this situation is exactly what government wants to prevent with establishment of the home for the Girls.

“We want to ensure that we provide protection for them at all cost and we know if we put them in a place where workers are trained – because sometimes we put them in a home and the workers are not trained and they are re-abused by the workers, I’ve heard of it.

“And therefore, we cannot and will not make that mistake to just provide job for somebody looking for a house mother job. It’s a different institution and we’ll  ensure that we provide proper training and evaluation of who we hire to be there.

The recently opened Bacolet Home at Mamma Cannes for young offenders has come under scrutiny with reports about some of the hired staffers being untrained and landing jobs due to their close affiliation with the ruling New National Party (NNP) government.

Minister Thomas announced that the Home for Abused Girls should be opened in September and that the “proper staffing” is currently being selected for the building.

“…The staff would not just be staff – people looking for job, but it will be trained people who understand those young girls need special care. Therefore, proper examination would be done and evaluation of persons who we are recruiting to be staffed – not only persons who have a particular degree. So we’re looking for people with passion, not people who would be abusing the girls also,” she said.

The senior government minister described the purchasing of the building as the fulfillment of a promise made in the 2019 budget to provide such a Home for Abused Girls in the country.

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