Child sexual abuse

Por Sara Más / saramas_2000@yahoo.com

Child sexual abuse in Cuba remains invisible, experts feel.

«While some positive steps have been taken to provide victims with appropriate care, there is still a long way to go,» said Patricia Soberón, a sociologist working for the National Sex Education Center (CENESEX).

«Prevention and treatment demand a systematic, inter-institutional approach and further information to family and society,» she added.

«Surveys have shown that most people believe that these acts are only seldom perpetrated, turning them into myth or taboo,» she indicated.

«Like many other forms of violence, they are based on unequal power relations and involve mainly girls,» she recalled.

«They entail direct and/or indirect sexual contact with boys or girls for sexual gratification,» she stressed.

«They may include deception, intimidation, threat and even blackmail,» she commented.

«Abusers have no specific profile; they are not always persons with mental illnesses and can well be taken to court,» said Juana N. Ronda, director of a victims care center in Havana .

Most children tend not to speak about these acts because they are threatened or simply ashamed.

«Data under-registration makes it very difficult to conduct studies along these lines,» Soberón told SEMlac.

«We see patients who are referred from medical and other specialists,» said Manuel Vázquez, a legal advisor to CENESEX.

«We provide them with psychological support and guidance and, if necessary, refer them to the Children’s Protection Centre in Havana.

«There are similar facilities operating in the central province of Santa Clara and the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba ,» he noted.

Soberón recently conducted a research work that involved nine girls and one boy aged 5 to 15, who had been sexually abused.

«Most of them are being raised by extended families, divorced parents and/or in households marked by physical and psychological violence,» she emphasized.

Six of these children told their parents about it and four kept silent or told other family members.

Aloyma Ravelo, a journalist who has dealt with these issues for over 10 years in Mujeres and Muchacha magazines, told SEMlac that information about these cases is only revealed when the patients are seen by psychologists.

«There is still a very low perception of the problem; and prevention and treatment should be further strengthened,» Soberón concluded.

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