In my boy days, it generally happened like an elusive, passing event that never presented any red flags to the success of the larger enterprise with which we were usually engaged beyond distraction.
So when you heard in passing that Brother Bigg was bulling Katwaroo, the scrawny Hindu who had surprised his whole rural community by being among the highest scorers in the Common Entrance Examination and land a place in the prestigious Irish Catholic College in the city, you let that slip by.
The bigger talk, for us, was that Katwaroo was sure to win an Island Schol for his school.
It’s in this context that we were able to rationalize the special attention which “Bro” obviously showered upon Katie, complete with extra lessons at the seminary after school.
As boys whose parents hardly ever set foot beyond the college gate, we were also impressed at how reverentially Kay’s parents came to offer him to the Bro.
Those were the Friday afternoons when we all walked down the High street in droves, proudly displaying our college badges and hoping to meet and rub shoulders and other parts with girls from the Convent.
About fifty years after first setting foot into that hallowed institution, I look with a different pair of eyes at the pain and torture which students like Kat and thousands of other boys would have gone through over those five decades.
Like silent lambs constantly brought into the slaughterhouse of the “brothers’, and with many of their fathers unaware of the harrowing experience they were being made to silently endure, these would be the men to emerge as leaders in the various realms of life later.
These would be the models our children would look up to in the fields of Law, Politics, Social Work, Industry and otherwise as they moved from one level to another in service to man and country.
“I hear that B is a hen”, my friend said to me when we met at a bar many years later.
Coffee Street, San Fernando
B – whose real name – like Katwaroo and others in this story – will be kept confidential, had made us all proud by winning an Island Scholarship to Cambridge University, England.
I had the privilege of him teaching me in my early days at the same school before he left.
B was very mild, polite man who sought to always persuade rather than dictate. A fine gentleman.
B is among thousands crying in the valley of tears.
An article in the Trinidad Guardian on Oct 29 201,
pointed to this problem and called on government to “Tackle child abuse proactively”
“T&T has a long history of child abuse and, despite new revelations every year, it hardly seems as though there is any progress in containing this social scourge”, the newspaper said.
This abuse takes three main forms:
(1) punishment carried to excess;
(2) carelessness leading to injury or death; and
(3) abuse that ends in murder.
“Yet even this last has not had any consequences for the perpetrators. The killer of Akiel Chambers is still free 17 years after the boy’s buggered body was found at the bottom of a swimming pool.”, it added.
This is also the case for most other child murderers who, even when there were suspects, have not been convicted.
“And while abusers caught on social media video have been prosecuted, this seems to have made little impact on other perpetrators”
While making its own suggestions as to how the problem can be handled, the Guardian hit the nail on the head by adding:
“But the hardest row to hoe is undoubtedly bringing about an attitudinal change on the part of parents. But targeted and tailored interventions in other countries have been shown to work and can readily be adapted here.
If the political will is there, such measures can begin to bear young fruit almost at once”.
In recent times, we have seen an encouraging upsurge of concern from various quarters, even though the triggers of interest have been caused by decades-old cases where many of the alleged perpetrators are dead.
In many cases however, that does not lessen the trauma experienced by many victims.
“I AM SEXUAL ABUSE EVIDENCE”, the headline of a Trinidad Express story by Anna Ramdass on May 20, 2022 screamed.
It featured allegations by a former ward at the St Dominic’s Children’s Home recalling the ordeal of being raped at 9 years old.
A man who was sexually abused over 25 years ago, when he was about nine years old, wants the “sexual monster” to be brought to justice”, Ramdass reported.
“The man who shared his heart-wrenching experience with the Express said he is willing to tell all to the police, “in the hope that the abuser, who sexually abused 30 to 40 children at the home, is finally held accountable for the crimes he committed which left him and many others shattered and traumatised for life”.
On Monday, after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley publicly called on acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob to find and investigate the 1997 Robert Sabga report into children’s homes, the victim, Bradley (not his real name), messaged the Prime Minister via social media and questioned whether his abuser (name provided but who will be referred to as “Mr X” by the Express) can be prosecuted.
He informed the Prime Minister that he was the one who “blew the lid” on Mr X which resulted in his resignation from the home.
Therefore, with an abundance of evidence available, coupled with the resolve of the country’s Prime Minister himself to see this dark story come to an end – and not forgetting the asset of a strengthened Children’s Authority under Hanif Benjamin – this shell-shocked nation will be eager to see a light at the end of this dark, long tunnel which keeps burrowing it way into in its history.