CATT Chairman Hanif Benjamin

SOCIETY must act quickly to reclaim its children, with every citizen assuming the role of protector, chairman of the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, Hanif Benjamin, said yesterday.

Benjamin was asked to respond to a claim this week by psychiatrist Dr Varma Deyalsingh, who is also an independent senator, that older men were going after young girls and this country was dealing with an average of 62 teenaged pregnancies per month.

In an interview with the Express, Deyalsingh said a failure to implement and enforce laws continued to facilitate a breakdown of order and examples should be made of men found guilty of rape - as sex with a minor (under age 18) was a criminal offence.

Abuse in the home, lack of attention, feelings of not fitting in and financial instability also contribute to a mental state that leads some girls to seek or accept attention from older men.

Benjamin noted that the CATT’s powers are limited and that the agency becomes involved when a report is made, with its primary funtions aimed at children reported to be abused.

Public getting involved

The CATT cannot bcome involved where it is not invited but Benjamin said it appeared that members of the public were becoming more involved in child welfare, and were seeming more comfortable with reporting incidents of abuse.

He called on society to take stock of local culture and the messages being imparted to girls.

“We are a very sexual society, it is in our culture,” Benjamin said.

He urged against the sexualisation of children and girls, the latter of whom were sometimes being dressed in “skimpy” clothes that are connected to a sexual culture.

While acknowledging that men are also obligated to behave responsibly, Benjamin warned against the messages being broadcast by the culture.

He was high in commendation for the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Child Protection Unit (CPU), which he said has been very involved with the CATT.

The two agencies meet monthly to assess ongoing cases and Benjamin said many cases are being closed.

The CATT has had over 20,000 cases of child abuse, including incest, come before it since it’s establishment in 2015.

Benjamin remarked at the volume of cases and said this pointed to issues within society that must be solved and further urged honest dialogue about local culture and its effect on children.


THE community of Makefing was under nine feet of flood water yesterday, leaving everyone from residents to police officers and emergency responders stranded.

In fact, the area was brought to a standstill, with the MP describing it as the worst flooding he has ever witnessed.

Savi Sookram was one of the many residents who awoke yesterday to find her house a virtual Noah’s Ark.

The usually sleeping Ortoire River, engorged by days of rainfall, overflowed overnight, leaving her house surrounded by nine feet of water.

ANGRY residents and business owners of Bamboo Settlement # 2 unleashed insults and anger as Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan and Minister of Rural Development and Local Government Faris Al-Rawi attempted to tour the area yesterday.

Residents had on Monday claimed that Ministry of Works contractors were the cause of “historic” disastrous flooding in their village following torrential rain.

Lakeisha Grant, the six-month pregnant woman who died in a fire at her boyfriend’s home five months ago, will be laid to rest today.

Grant, along with two members of a Gasparillo family, was trapped inside the burning house when fire broke out on June 25.

Matriarch Eveline Miller, 72, and her five-year-old granddaughter Amy Chattergoon, also died in the fire.

POLICE are probing the murders of three men in Laventille, which yesterday pushed the murder tally to 555.

The triple killing brought acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob to the scene, where he revealed he is scheduled to meet with the heads of all policing divisions to discuss the best way forward regarding the spate of murders.

Police yesterday identified the victims as Cody Pierre, 23, of Maplands, Laventille; Jevon George, 23, of Sapodilla Trace, Laventille; and Alex Morton of Redhill, Morvant.

Around 9 a.m. yesterday, residents of Sapodilla Trace heard a series of gunshots.

Upon investigating they found the three victims on the ground, bleeding from multiple injuries.

A FLOODED section of the Uriah Butler Highway caused a traffic pile-up as far west as Cocorite and as far east as Trincity, as the weekend’s unusually heavy rainfall continued to leave citizens awash in despair.

So bad was the traffic that Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan instructed that the Priority Bus Route be open to light vehicles from 6 p.m. from Port of Spain straight to Arima.

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