By TYRONE A. VELEZ
DAVAO CITY – Child advocates among non-government and local government want more effort in disseminating awareness and support to children who are victims of sexual abuse.
This was raised Monday during the commemoration of the National Awareness Week on the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the second week of February.
The non-government organization Talikala said they had handled last year 16 cases of sexual abuse on children aged nine to 16. Most victims were girls, with 13 cases, and boys, with three.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development Region 11 also recorded 16 cases in 2013 with children as young as 8 to 15 years old.
But Talikala Executive Director Jeanette Ampog said there are more unreported cases.
“There are factors that the figures are underreported. Children at their young age had no idea if a relative touching or forcing them to do sex is something bad,” she said.
Ampog said that during their group’s sessions and counseling with children from the urban poor communities, some children then realized they or their friends or relatives had been abused.
“Another factor is they don’t know whom to turn to. Sexual abuse remains a taboo subject for families.” Ampog said.
Sexual offenders were often members of the family, or their neighbors.
She recalled some children in conflict with the law were also “used” by gay men for sexual favors in exchange for money. She said these children had contracted sexually transmitted infection as a result.
Davao City has passed several local laws for the protection of children against violence, sexual abuse and exploitation, including the Childrens’ Welfare Code and Juvenile Intervention Mechanism Ordinance.
Yet Ampog said the public must not be complacent, “as sexual abuse left untreated will lead to difficulty for children to integrate to society”.
“If they grow up without resolving their experience, they will have distortion of values, distrust of authority. They become anti-social and also become passive to society and not aware that they can seek change.”
City Councilor Leah Librado, head of the Council committee on women, children and family relations, raised alarm on the cases of sexual abuse.
“Considering that we have enough laws to protect these children from any form of abuse or violence, yet the number of victims continues to grow. It is a shame and a point to assess the government’s efficiency in enforcing laws and programs. Even a single case of abuse against a child would mean that the government is still remised of its duty to protect every child,” Librado said.
Librado urged city officials to do their part in educating the public on sexual abuse.
“I believe that there are still so much to do in terms of public awareness thus, the city government should continue and should not stop educating everybody of the rights of the children, effects of abuses/violence on these children as well as the consequences of our laws in case of violation,” she said.
Both Ampog and Librado said that legal remedies on sexual abuse tend to drag in courts.
Ampog said a sexual abuse case would run up to five to eight years, and often the cases resort to settlement outside the court.
“It remains to be seen how cases would be favorable to the victims,” Ampog said (Tyrone Velez/davaotoday.com)Abuse, Child, Children's Welfare, davao, Juvenile Intervention, Leah Librado, Librado, Philippines\, Sex, talikala