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Grooming & sex trafficking in Trinidad


May 2017


What do we look for when we search for a ‘trafficked’ girl?

Or a “victim” as most people – in and out of law – like to call them?

Or “persons” as some, like minister Gary Griffith [Minister of National Security [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JCaXetVsBA&sns=em] calls them?

That varies according to location, culture, and country.  But the ones who traffic girls almost always seem to have the same profile.  Most of us – especially in law and order – will agree that a trafficker is a universal looking perpetrator. But that also depends on country, culture and location.

Why are girls so often trafficked without stop when we know sometimes the place from which they are trafficked? One girl who was trafficked, Storm Catalleya from Ohio, has an answer that few law and order authorities think about.  Yet, many serious and interesting TV shows, movies and even documentaries on “truth” still mainly concentrate on the perps rather than the girls kidnapped, and hardly explore why the girls are easy prey. But, Cattaleya singles out the major cause for human trafficking as grooming. While the word ‘grooming’ may conjure up all sorts of nice connotations for dogs, cats, lawns or people, grooming in the human traffic domain has zero to do with anything positive!

Cattaleya was not kidnapped like a lot of trafficked girls; she was groomed [https://youtu.be/hSum6Xe64C4]. Groomed from her church pastor whom she and parents trusted. In fact, she was groomed all her life from childhood right up to college where the abuse continued. Because of grooming. She did not realize what was happening, and did not recognize it as grooming until almost too late.

In Trinidad, girls from 12 to 18 years of age are disappearing everywhere in school uniforms and plain clothes. In broad daylight! Latina girls are brought into the country at the same time these Trinidadian girls are missing. The rate at which these missing Trinidadians and arriving Latinas are occurring is beginning to look like some sinister, horrid exchange program! And at the same time guns and narcs are entering Trinidad and this question begs : are these three issues connected because in all three cases the authorities cannot legally sign documents to hire sex traffickers, bring in narcs and guns?

Traffickers are paid between $5,000 TT to $50,000 TT per girl. And what makes it worse – and girls more traffickable – is the trafficking movement from the streets to the web. Men can now lure under-aged girls from 13 or younger on the web, without being found, especially as not much effort is put into searching for them on the streets. Adrian Alexander [president of CURB [Caribbean Umbrella Body for Restorative Behavior] reports that on the streets of Trinidad girls are picked out like a piece of meat in Port of Spain on Ariapita Avenue.

Ministers and organizations are knowledgeable about the problem of missing girls – everyone else on the web is! – but are doing too little. If that is the case, what can others do? Local institutions, citizens, school programs, and parents to help eradicate the problem if governmental authorities are prioritizing finding our girls? We cannot rely anymore on the-wait-and-see approach of the government in Trinidad and Tobago which allows perps to traffic girls by turning a blind eye. We must adopt a hands-on approach. We must talk about trafficking and make girls see how to avoid it because without making them aware and talking about it, trafficking is NOT going to change its dirty hands.

What makes matters worse is the silence that this macho society perpetuates by the language and attitude used about and after girls are trafficked. Some feel that the girls kidnapped are not worth finding because “they looking for man’ but they fail to see how they themselves groom their daughters to put up with patriarchal slavery. These parents are perpetuating girls’ vulnerability by their religious subservience, flawed gendered tradition, macho attitude and patriarchal behavior of shaming girls and name-calling them into more subservience, which is all also part of the grooming process. We must therefore change our language and attitude towards these missing girls who are being trafficked out of the country while bring others into the country. Whether Latina or Trinidadian we must stop calling these girls names and blaming them for ‘looking for it’. We must stop calling them ‘victims’. They are not victims! They are survivors when they are found, and must not to be shamed into silence or other forms of bondage by marrying them off, or not airing their cases for other girls to hear about, and instead further silence them. The ensuing result is more girls kidnapped without a trace.

The late activist William Latchman of CURB believed that the trade could stop with good men – and women and girls of course – but that Trinidad and Tobago is a “coward society” and turns a blind eye.

Some of the girls missing include: Angel Ash, 15 since 6 July 2017

'**** STILL MISSING **** ANGEL ASH, age 15 missing since 7:30am 6th July 2017. Last seen on her way to school (Sangre Grande Secondary). If you have any information please contact 800-TIPS, 555 or 999. ***** PLEASE LIKE AND SHARE*****'

  • MERLENA JAMES, the 13yr old Form 2 pupil of Holy Name Convent Pt Fortin was last seen on Saturday 8th July 2017

Image may contain: one or more people

  • JANIKA HARRIS, age 16 of Cumuto, last seen on 27th June 2017
  • Jordan Bazzey 16 last seen 28 June 2017

'****MISSING **** JORDAN BAZZEY, age 16 , last seen on 28th June 2017. Please call 555, 999, 669-1020 (Piarco Police Station) or 800-TIPS with any information. ***** PLEASE LIKE AND SHARE *****'

  • Angel and Niana Farrel, 16 and 15; Parbatie Ragbir , 15 and Sumitra Jaikaran, 16 – who all disappeared on 17 may 2017 and were found on 22 may 2017

  • 12 year old Alisha Francis and 15 year old Arianne Sylvester went missing in may 2017
  • Shania Ali, 16, Semoy Ramdhanie, 13, ArielCharles, 15, and Shaniyah McDonald, 15 who were taken from a children’s home in april 2017
  • Melissa Samlal 15 last seen on 30 Jan 2017Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

  • Anessa Scipio, Age 15. Reported missing on April 19th, 2016
Image may contain: one or more people and closeup

  • 19 yr old Shizelle Hernandez was kidnapped 2011
  • there are videos gone viral circulating freely on some girls kidnapped and forced into porn

Some of these girls who were found by a few good women and men: Ajeda Daimond Patrick 15, sapphire Charles 15, Makayla Bobcombe 16 and Tamika Ramgoolam 16, Shania Lai 16, Semoy Ramdhanie, 13.

We might also learn from other countries to stop this crime through schools. In the US, many years ago, the school board decided to make sex education available to students as young as 11 in public schools, to make them aware not only of the dangers or early pregnancy or STDs, but more importantly to make girls and boys aware of their bodies and unwanted touching etc. Girls are made aware and taught to say ‘no’ to inappropriate behavior and to report things to school administration if something inappropriate happens that makes them uncomfortable. This is the reverse of grooming.

If the girls kidnapped were empowered with this form of anti-grooming education what possibilities they could have had! What if they had known what to expect, or what to do from early on? What possibilities would they have had they been groomed by parents to avoid pitfalls by understanding the manipulative tactics that men use on streets, in churches, in homes of family members and in temples and online to lure them?

Girls can become powerful collaborators instead of victims with education, because KNOWLEDGE MAKES A GIRL UNFIT TO BE A SLAVE [Frederick Douglas]. Or teach them karate, ju jitsu etc! But Grooming of girls, consciously or unconsciously, remains a strong force in Trinidad and produces a slave out of her, and an easy prey to sex traffic. Structural upbringing is a force that stays with us.

Please join crime stoppers to stop our girls from being kidnapped and/or peddled into sex trafficking and call 800-TIPS, 800 8477 anonymously, or contact the police at 555, 999, 911 or any police station. And please use your social media consciously to expose sexual predators.



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