How can girls as young as 14 years old be in a situation where they are beaten by abusive partners and slaves in their own homes?
Hamilton Abuse Intervention Project (HAIP) staff said the women they worked with were becoming younger and younger.
“We are working with girls who are literally slaves in their own homes,” project manager Lila Jones said.
Her comment comes ahead of Tuesday’s White Ribbon Day – the international day for the elimination of violence against women.
Project service manager Julie Pullman said entering into a sexual relationship at the age of 13 or 14 opened up more avenues for a girl to be abused.
“Young girls can be naive and don’t really know what an abusive relationship looks like,” she said.
“So they can easily slip into it and not know how to get out. We are certainly finding that in our youth programme.”
Ms Pullman said both young women and men needed to be taught about abusive relationships while they were still in school.
“A lot of it should be about self-esteem. Teaching them to value themselves,” she said.
“I think parents are floundering really to know how to empower their own children.”
Obviously she knows a lot more about this than I do. But I don’t think girls just a year or two into their teens are women nor that the problem is about the self esteem of children.
The problem is men who think this sort of treatment of anyone – female, male of any age – is acceptable.
The problem is parents who fail their chidlren, almost certainly years before they get to their teens – and that could be because they were failed by their own parents.
The problem is a society which sexualises chidlren.
The problem is a society which disregards the law which makes sexual relationships with minors illegal.