Social Issues

Violence against children a critical issue in Colombia, NGO says

Bogota, Nov 30 (efe-epa).- Violence against children in Colombia is a “critical” issue and the government should invest more resources for the protection of minors, the Colombian branch of the NGO SOS Children’s Villages said on Monday.

“In Colombia, the situation of violence against children is critical and the resources invested to reduce and prevent it are very scarce,” Angela Rosales, national director of SOS Children’s Villages, told EFE during a sit-in held in the Plaza de Bolivar in Bogota to mark World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse and World Children’s Day.

More than 37 children become victims of sexual abuse every day in Colombia, and many are separated from their families due to domestic violence, resulting in more than 30,000 growing up away from a nurturing family setting, according to figures from the state-run Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF).

“We demand from the State adequate funding for the care of children victims of all kinds of violence who grow up without the care of their families and under state care,” said Rosales.

According to the organization, only 7 percent of child abusers are punished, while Colombia spends more resources on average per prisoner than on each child under state care.

Rosales said that, according to an ICBF report as of July 31, 2020, this year 6,134 boys and girls have entered the Administrative Process for the Restoration of Rights system due to sexual abuse.

Meanwhile, a report published by the National Penitentiary and Prison Institute, showed that this year more than 600 convicted child sex offenders have been released.

One of the biggest complaints of those affected by sexual violence against children is the slowness of justice.

A mother who joined the sit-in in the Plaza de Bolivar said the case of her daughter has made no progress.

“My daughter was abused by her father when she was four years old. When the girl was six, she told us everything and we reported (the crime),” said the woman who requested to remain anonymous.

The case was reported in Bogota, she said, but it was transferred to Barrancabermeja, in the department of Santander, since that was where the events occurred.

“The person is still free, no prosecution has ever been made and nothing has been done for the child support process,” said the woman, adding that her daughter is now 13 years old.

She believes that if the laws were hardened in Colombia, the aggressors would be less likely to abuse children. She also advocated for rights education for minors so that they are not violated and know how to act in case it happens. EFE-EPA

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