Child rights situation in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is a beautiful land of multicoloured people of multicultural origin. Though it is not my country of birth, Trinidad and Tobago has served as my country of residence till date and I have watched it grow as I have watched myself grow thus far.
In our society here, there are many pros and cons. Child rights and protection has never been under a major threat before, as relatively sufficient methods were taken to ensure these rights such as ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and A World Fit for Children (2002). Additionally, the Children’s Authority was established and several internal laws were passed, relevant to the needs of the child.
However, I have found two major problems with the Trinidadian system. While all due commendation is given to the leaders and those in authority, I don’t think enough is being done as although children have been under no major persecution, we read in the daily newspapers and see instances of children being victims of sexual, mental, physical and verbal abuse and even murder, which is highly prevalent. Currently, Trinidad and Tobago is in, what I would refer to as, a crisis. We are said to be one of the richest islands of the Caribbean, yet this richness of identity doesn’t seem to hold any value in some citizens’ minds, who commit murder like any other daily activity.
As a child, it is absolutely heartbreaking to read of yet another child being murdered, most brutally or another child being held as part of a sexual contract of sorts or another child succumbing to injuries from a domestically violent home. This problem is in no way unique to Trinidad and Tobago but is however extremely concerning to its citizens as we all have blood on our hands, in the killing of a single child. We are all responsible.
Venezuela, in light of its recent political and social instability has sought refuge in us, as a country. How is Trinidad and Tobago supposed to offer care and protection to children and by extension, citizens, of another land when we can barely protect our own? We must do better. Recently, seven murders were said to have taken place in twenty-four hours. Thirteen children were recorded dead in a given year and many more near- victims of life threatening situations. I believe that we, as a people, must come together to find a way to eliminate this threat, especially for our children, whose basic right to life is under major threat.
Another issue in the ‘child rights protection’ aspect is that child participation is little to none in the finalizing of the decisions that affect us. While we commend initiatives such as these, in which I am being given the privilege to write this article, more initiatives like this must be present, on a national or regional scale, to represent a wider audience of children, with different needs and wants. Currently, laws are being established based simply on what is seen at the surface level. More investigation needs to be done so as to create laws that would benefit each and every child, to ensure an equitable playing field which would boost the growth of children as holistic, meaningful contributors to society, for a shared, sustainable future.
It cannot be a one-person team. Each and every child and adult must unite their vision for a positive change and channel it into creating a world where child rights is something that is guaranteed to each and every child, despite race, religion, sexual orientation or otherwise.
We can do this, We all can!
By: Vrishni Marahaj
CORIA Trinidad and Tobago