By ROD TAJON
VIGAN CITY — Two school forums launched the campaign for a child rights’ group for the protection of children against abuses.
Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC), a non-government institution that provides psychosocial help to children victims of state violence, said the worsening economic and political situation increased the prevalence of abuses among children and made them vulnerable to domestic, as well as state violence.
Budhi Castillo, Information and Publicity Staff of CRC in Ilocos, said that in more than 20 years of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the rights of the children continue to be violated.
“Last year, there were 17 cases of rape among children and minors reported, and more than 50 cases of child abuse from sexual harassment, acts of lasciviousness, physical abuse and the like, and on the other hand, hundreds of children in the countryside are affected by militarization which makes them more vulnerable to sexual abuse by the state forces.”
Castillo stated and said that despite all of these numbers, justice remained elusive for children. CRC recently launched Protect Our Children, a campaign to stop violence against children.
The campaign was initiated by student leaders from the Data Center Colleges of the Philippines (DCCP), and University of Northern Philippines (UNP).
CRC recently assisted Mariel (not her real name), a 12-year old victim of rape in filing complaints with agencies such as the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) after receiving a report that her case of rape would be downgraded to child abuse, where in the perpetrator can post bail.
“The case of Mariel is only one among the many other victims of abuse among children that need to be heard.” Castillo stressed and added that one victim, in fact, is too many.
As part of the campaign, CRC forged a partnership with Local Government Units, the church and the academe in advocacy.
This includes a series of forum discussions, a signature campaign, trainings and media activities for women and children will highlight the campaign.
There is a need
Nadine Bello, Sangguniang Bayan Member of Santa, Ilocos said during a forum in Mabilbila Integrated School that there is a need to campaign against abuse against children as the cases are growing in numbers.
“The students should be aware of the different forms of abuses and that they too, can take part in the crusade against child abuse by knowing what to do and where to report the incidents.” She emphasized.
Bello, chairperson of the Santa’s Women, Children and Families Committee, earlier signified her support to the campaign for the protection of children, and intended to organize more forum discussions in various schools at the municipal level.
The forum organized by Ms. Bello and Mayor Jeremy Jesus Bueno III was attended by more than 100 high school students last February 20.
Another forum was held at UNP which was attended by Social Work and Psychology students of UNP last February 23.
Lean Flores, spokesperson of Akap Bata, stressed in the forum the importance of serious implementation of the laws that protects the rights and welfare of children citing RA 7610 and the RA 9262 which despite its existence does not fully protect children from abuses.
Both Flores and Ms. Nelda Fortunado of Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) shared the same analysis, as the number of cases of children victims-survivors of abuse increased in the past years.
According to Fortunado, there are at least three women raped every day and at least one case of violence against women and children (VAWC) occur every hour.
Aside from the VAWC, CRC noted the increasing number of human rights violations against children and minors in the communities affected by militarization.
Castillo said that many girls are deceived by the military in their operations and that LGU’s treat the incidents as isolated and even blame the minors.
Fortunado and Flores both said in two separate forums that the situation of women and children will only improve if the current system of the society changes.
Fortunado stressed the importance of collective action of the people to stop all forms of Violence Against Women and Children and held the perpetrators, especially the state, accountable on the issue of VAWC. “The people’s organized, collective and determined action can pressure any government entity–from barangay up to Malacañang– to act on the need to address women and children’s rights.” She pointed out.
“Ultimately, the only solution for the abuses to stop is to change the systems that promote a culture of violence and impunity, and a system that systematically violates the rights and welfare of children.” Flores concluded. # nordis.net