A grant was awarded to the Sweet Water Foundation Research and Treatment Institute in Grenada by the Government of Canada through its Equality Fund’s Women Voices and Leadership grant program, in the amount of CAD$60,000 to carry out the Under 5 Project over a period of three years. Under 5 is a multi-country project, the first of its kind to address a form of child abuse, enslavement and torture which appears increasingly prevalent in the Caribbean and elsewhere – the sexual abuse of children under 5 years old. The project is being implemented with various partners in the study-countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize and Suriname.
Research Lead and Director of Sweet Water Foundation says “Under 5 seeks to contribute to the production and expansion of knowledge about sexual violence against children, especially in the under five-year-old demographic, and how this violence impacts individuals and communities throughout the lifespan. We know that child abuse is prevalent in the region, as well as in the wider world, and we seek to produce the first such research in the Caribbean.
In our region, when children are abused there is no standardized psychological intervention mandated to help them, leaving us with a population of young and adult women who often grow up struggling with the effects of early violence. We realize that specialized, high quality psychological services have never been provided in the region for this focused issue, since the nature of the problem has never been researched and succinctly articulated in scientific, culturally-relevant terms.
Once we have conducted the research, we will then develop the first comprehensive training packages for an intersectoral cadre of service providers. This would include building upon existing resources in the medical and psychological sphere, as well as in education, day care, recreation, church groups, women’s organizations, and transgender agencies. This also includes training and awareness-building for the individuals who are at risk or who have experienced abuse, in regard to building power, resilience and protective practices on behalf of self and community.”
The philosophical underpinnings of this research have roots in feminist theory and a liberatory discourse with their call to purposeful, local action through adult-focused education, with the goal of a full and abundant life for everyone in the community.
No social movements sustain without accompanying policy and law, or institutional frameworks. Once our research into the nature of child rape in the under-five demographic in this region is complete, and once treatments are sought that directly address the psycho-social need, then recommendations for institutional frameworks will be made. We plan to advocate for mandatory, standardized, psychological treatments by high-level, credentialed professionals, for children who have suffered sexual violence.