Caribbean moves towards ending sexual violence

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The Caribbean took a step towards ending sexual violence against children when ministerial delegations met in Barbados two weeks ago for r a conference themed "Combating Sexual Violence Against Children – From Isolated Actions to Integrated Strategies". The event was convened within the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General's UNiTE campaign to End Violence Against Women.

UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Ms. Michelle Gyles-McDonnough told the Conference that the event focused on rooting out an aspect of violence, shrouded in secrecy and abetted by shame – violence against children in the Caribbean.

Michelle Gyles-McDonnough: Today we take the next step in reinforcing country actions and existing regional initiatives, to come away with an integrated, multidisciplinary, regional strategy.

Girls the world over are most affected by sexual abuse. A 2006 World Health Organisation report estimated that in 2002, the prevalence of sexual abuse among boys amounted to approximately 73million, and among girls, twice that at 150 million. Whereas the trend at the time saw young boys facing greater physical violence, girls were more likely to have suffered sexual abuse by the time they were 15, more likely to have been exposed to sexual and gender-based violence at school by male teachers and classmates, and to have been forced into human trafficking. The Regional Assessment of Violence Against Children in the Caribbean Region highlights the high prevalence of girls being the reported victims of sexual abuse in relation to boys, tracking the global trend. The Caribbean Report, as one contributing factor, pointed to the cultural and socially entrenched attitudes of entitlement to young girls' bodies associated with care responsibilities.

Narrator:  The representative of the Caribbean Community –CARICOM Dr. Morella Joseph explained that recent studies on Child Sexual Abuse in the Caribbean, (which have actually reduced the research gap in that area)provided overwhelming evidence to conclude that sexual violence against children is a social problem that is escalating, and have identified new and emerging but very disturbing forms of sexual abuse, not just against girls who are mostly the victims, but boys as well.

Morella Joseph : Child Sexual Abuse is a child rights issue, but we cannot deny its most tangible economic and costly effects for our Member States particularly its implications for the health sector, in that it contributes to teenage or unwanted pregnancies, abortions and related complications, mental illness, sexually transmitted infections and HIV transmission, drug and alcohol abuse, to name a few. In dealing with this pressing issue, CARICOM recognizes the imperative of developing an integrated approach – combining strong responsive and preventive measures that emphasize child care and protection, and those to end impunity. Accepting that no form of violence against children – particularly sexual violence – can be justified or condoned:

Narrator: Dr. Joseph stressed that the UNiTE Conference is another important step in the process of addressing the growing problem of child sexual abuse in the Caribbean region, and by extension advancing the UN campaign to end violence against women.

The main objectives of the conference are to create a network of participating countries that can share initiatives on ending violence against children and to produce a country-level action agenda.

This is Donn Bobb reporting

Duration: 3’37″

Filed under Caribbean News.
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August 2014
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