Social Issues

6-yr-old’s abuse in school lays bare rampant violence against children in Paraguay

By Laura Barros

Asunción, May 9 (EFE).- An alleged sexual abuse of a six-year-old in a Paraguay school has shocked the nation and blown the lid off the high rates of violence against children in the South American country.

On Friday, a woman alleged that some students had abused her boy in a school bathroom and the school authorities had failed to act.

The incident occurred last month, but it hogged the headlines after the mother reported to the press and spoke to a group of journalists with her back to TV cameras.

The woman said “three to four” students abused the boy on Apr.26.

She had reportedly informed the school authorities but to no avail.

It sparked fury that the private school authorities did not act immediately as per the protocols of the Paraguayan law, forcing the mother to speak to the media.

Prosecutor Myriam Rodríguez Monday said they had identified two suspects of 12 and 13 years.

The incident has shocked the people amid concerns over the safety of their kids in schools.

Some parents protested in front of the Prosecutor’s Office and the court, where the private school head and two teachers recorded their testimonies over the weekend.

The demonstrations continued on Sunday until a judge ordered the preventive detention of the school officials of SEK Paraguay International School, which, according to its website, is linked to a global network of schools founded in Spain.

The case is not the only one in the school environment.

Education Minister Nicolás Zárate told ABC TV that his office was investigating another case in Encarnación, the capital of the Itapúa region. But he did not provide details.

Education ministry official Sonia Escauriza told EFE that they had received 164 complaints of child rights violations in schools this year.

These include 18 cases of sexual abuse, nine of sexual harassment, and 15 related to bullying.

She admitted that complaints skyrocketed after the latest reported case.

Coordinator for Rights of Children and Adolescents head Aníbal Cabrera told EFE that 56,000 complaints of sexual violence against minors were reported between 2008 and 2021.

The complaints include sexual abuse, child pornography, and human trafficking for sexual exploitation and rape.

Cabrera warned that the country went from an average of two cases reported per day in 2008 to 12 daily last year.

Between January and March, the government received 662 complaints of sexual abuse against boys and girls – an average of seven a day in a country of 7.1 million inhabitants.

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