Parents and children announced the symbolic funeral of a child in Bogota on Wednesday, angered by a medical examiner report claiming a child is raped every 20 minutes.
This shocking statistic was revealed in a report released by Medical Examiner’s Office earlier this week.
Between January and April of 2019, 8,230 children suffered some form of sexual violence, a 15% increase from the 7,165 reported in the same period of last year, according to the report.
Some 90% of the rape victims under 18 were female, and 70% of the cases related to children between the ages of 5 and 14.
These numbers are likely a dramatic under-representation of the true extent of the problem, according to Angela Rosales, head of an organisation known as Children’s Villages SOS, who told media that up to 70% of cases go unreported.
A group of concerned citizens said in a press release on Wednesday that Colombia is the third worst country in the world in terms of child sex abuse levels.
To express their anger, they announced the symbolic funeral of a child on Bogota’s central Plaza Bolivar.
The manifestation will protest “social indifference, on the part of the government and institutions failing to reduce the extent of the problem.”
The citizens are lobbying for a comprehensive “joint effort” in tackling the problem, with particular emphasis on education and impunity of perpetrators.
A number of children’s welfare organisations have come forward with proposals on how to tackle the growing problem of child abuse in Colombia.
Gloria Carvalho, the executive secretary of the Childhood Alliance, told press that the problem should be an immediate priority for the country, and blamed the high rate of abuse on the fact that the perpetrators often feel immune to justice, due to the government’s inefficacy.
Carvalho called for “the creation of a special judicial body for the protection of children, composed of prosecutors, detectives, judicial police, judges and public defenders, who could promptly bring perpetrators to justice”.
Family Welfare Institute (ICBF) director Juliana Pungiluppi said that her government organization is heading up a strategy aiming to influence government policy in the area, but is short of funds.
The administration of President Ivan Duque said it its National Development Plan that it seeks to reduce children’s sexual violence rate 303.8 per 100,000 to 260.2.
Pungiluppi, however, said that her organization has not been granted the necessary resources that would make this possible.
All our targets are in place, and we are working tirelessly to achieve them, but we don’t have the necessary resources.
The ICBF chief echoed Carvalho’s call for a special task force, and also promoted the creation of a national sex offenders register, which would make it easier to prevent people with child abuse convictions from entering jobs involving working with children. This suggestion also features in Duque’s National Development Plan.
The ICBF also advocate the creation of crisis centers for underage victims of abuse, whether sexual, physical or psychological.