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In a press release sent out by the Special Envoy for Women and Children, Kim Simplis Barrow called on parents and guardians to put the well-being, safety and protection of their children as a top priority. Kim Simplis Barrow’s statement comes in the wake of charges being brought against the area representative for Orange Walk East, Dr. Marco Tulio Mendez last week. Dr. Mendez was charged with aggravated assault of an indecent nature and common assault, based upon reports from two minors.

The National Committee for Families and Children stated in a press release that Belize became the fifth country to ratify the UN convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  That CRC document has since become the most widely ratified convention and human rights instrument in the world. This is testament to Belize’s recognition of the importance of caring for the country’s children and nurturing them to be responsible and productive citizens. This commitment obligated the Government of Belize to enact laws and policies that create the enabling environment for children to flourish.

The Press Release read: “One of the obligations to our children is to protect them from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse and neglect. In this light, the recent alleged sex-related cases and the sexual exploitation of our children in the news is extremely troubling to the NCFC. It is an example of the challenges the social sector encounters when attempting to change attitudes that allow children to remain vulnerable to violations of their person.

Furthermore, such an act infringes on the very right of children safety and the right to be protected from being hurt and mistreated in body or mind. Alleged perpetrator must bear in mind the stigma and trauma such an act brings to its victims, especially children. It’s a lifetime scar and clearly, sexual acts against children are a NO NO.

Therefore, such act/s committed by anyone cannot and will not be condoned and must be dealt with to the maximum extent of the law.  Most importantly it undermines the fight to end violence against children. If we are to live up to our commitments to children, the participation of communities and families is pivotal. We urge those who hold positions and platforms that can be used to educate and inform to make a personal commitment to being informed and using their influence in positive ways.”

The NCFC then urged the media to participate in the ongoing dialogue about protecting children in a more substantive manner by using the responsibility they have to share information, to question and to investigate and to even constructively call to task the many players in the child protection sector. The media is encouraged to be a voice on behalf of children and help create awareness of the issues that impact on our children’s lives.

The NCFC also appeals to families, guardians and the community at large to take care of our children. Listen and talk to your children about being safe. In fact, we all have a part to play in providing a safe and healthy environment to our future leaders and to commit to creating spaces where children can know they are nurtured and protected. It’s our collective responsibility to make Belize worthy of its children.


Special Envoy for Women and Children on Child Sexual Abuse

In light of the grave allegations recently made against a Belizean public figure, the Special Envoy for Women and Children, Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow, urges all persons involved to ensure that this highly sensitive issue is handled with the best interests of the affected children as the priority. This is an opportunity to rise above political lines and raise awareness on a serious issue that continues to be seen as taboo.

Child sexual abuse, in all its forms, is a horrific reality that shakes the foundation of countless homes across Belize and far beyond our borders; it transcends race, social status and religion. Unfortunately, too many victims and their families are crippled by fear and/or shame and, therefore, cases are often overlooked, undetected or go unreported, especially when the perpetrator is within the home or is a trusted adult.

It is also very important to understand the dynamics of child sexual abuse that makes it difficult for children to disclose their abuse. It is not uncommon for victims of child abuse to wait until adulthood to speak out. This is why it so important that when these violations of children’s rights are reported, they are not taken lightly and every effort is made to ensure that truth and justice prevail.

The Special Envoy takes this opportunity to encourage parents and guardians to ensure that the well-being, safety and protection of their children are paramount. Parents and guardians are encouraged to communicate with their children, ensuring that they have information on sexual abuse prevention and where to turn for help. And most importantly, parents and guardians are encouraged to always take action when incidents of abuse are reported to them, regardless of how trusted the accused offender may be. – End of Release -

 

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Dorian Nuñez

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