Child abuse on the increase in Latin America during pandemic | #childabuse | #children | #kids

Catholic missionaries say problems of sexual abuse and exploitation that most of the times happen inside families has increased during confinement


Catholic missionaries in Latin America are concerned by an increase in child abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social restrictions imposed by governments as the Americas had become the new epicenter of the disease has only exacerbated the abuse problem, they say.

Even as Brazil’s daily death rate became the highest in the world, the World Health Organization is also concerned about the rising figures in countries like Peru, Chile and El Salvador.

“We know that sexual abuse and exploitation most of the times happen inside families. Those problems tend to grow during confinement,” Brazilian Sister Roselei Bertoldo told Catholic News Service.

The nun is a member of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who works with the Cry for Life Network, which fights human trafficking and sexual abuse.

Most children usually denounce abuse at school, she said, “but poor kids don’t even have the option of distance education, so we’re very worried about them.”

“Unfortunately, we frequently get reports from people concerning abuse. We know things are escalating,” she said.

The fragility of the state security apparatus in many Latin American regions and challenges of the pandemic only makes a bad situation worse.

“Families usually fear the aggressor and avoid reporting the case to the police. Now, children are even more vulnerable,” Veronica Rubi, director of Caritas in Tabatinga, Brazil, told CNS.

In Peru, the number of phone calls to the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations’ hotline doubled during quarantine.

A report of the ministry released at the end of April showed 90 cases of sexual abuse; 59 of them involving underaged victims.

In Colombia, different armed groups have intensified recruitment in the countryside. With schools closed, the number of teenagers they have attracted has doubled, said Nathalia Forero, a social worker who is also a member of tri-border network.

“Girls who are recruited by armed groups can suffer much violence, including sexual abuse and exploitation,” Forero told CNS.




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