“High prevalence” of social issues at Kwakwani – social worker

first_img…says teenage pregnancy, sexual assault rampantSocial worker attached to the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC) and the Kwakwani Hospital in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice), Laurette Smith-Gray, has indicated that there is a “high level” of social issues affecting the Kwakwani community, in the Upper Berbice region. The social worker pointed to the high prevalence of issues including teenage pregnancies, statutory rape and sexual assault.Giving specific details, Smith-Gray said on average each year, there are more than 15 pregnancies recorded, which accounts for underage mothers (below age 16) in Kwakwani. She added that this is only the number recorded by the system but admits that there are other cases which the system may not come in contact withSocial Worker, Laurette Smith-Grayin riverine areas. She stressed that in such instances, many of these cases go undetected. Asked whether there are any plans in the pipeline to initiate a similar teenage pregnancy clinic as that which is located at the LHC, Smith-Gray said patients from the riverine community are facilitated at the Linden hospital.“What happens, is for persons who would have been brought to the system’s attention, they automatically would have to come down to the teenage clinic here. So all the underage pregnancies at Kwakwani, as long as it is documented at the Kwakwani Hospital, they are referred to the clinic here,” she noted, adding that similar cases at Ituni, also located in the Upper Berbice River, are referred to the LHC. As such, Smith-Gray said there is need for a resident social worker at Kwakwani, noting that the hospital’s management has already made application to facilitate this; however, she said the hospital’s management is currently awaiting approval from the Public Health Ministry. In the meantime, she noted she visits the Kwakwani Hospital twice monthly and in her absence, the visits are facilitated by other members of the hospital team.“Whatever is an emergency, or they consider to be an emergency, is transferred to Linden hospital. But now there is the Childcare Officer that is resident up there so, most of the cases with the juveniles are being handled by her until I would have visited,” the social worker explained. Zeroing in on the situation, Smith-Gray opined that issues such as these are not treated with much seriousness by some residents in the Kwakwani community, as she attributed this to the culture of acceptance of such issues at the location.“I believe it’s the culture of location. Most of the persons there, they tend not to see underage pregnancy as any major issue I would figure. Because we have lots of children who are still in the secondary schools; they are mothers, so nobody treats it with any kind of alarm or seriousness. It’s just become the norm and so it has become a part of their culture,” Smith-Gray opined.In relation to statutory rape, the social worker said in most cases, perpetrators are not prosecuted since in many instances family members decide to settle the issue outside of the court. “Most of the times, persons tend to want to cover the situation because it might be a close relative involved and on the other hand if the victim does not give a statement, then we don’t have a case. So, if the person refuses to identify who the person is then we can’t take the matter,” she said. On a brighter note, Smith-Gray said there are active teenage empowerment groups in the community. She said teens are empowered through various sessions via these groups as well as other support groups. (Utamu Belle)last_img read more