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Protecting our children

 

THE news of a 15-year-old girl who was allegedly raped by supposed protectors of the rights of children came out during the World Children’s Day on November 20. The offense was committed when the child was rescued during the implementation of curfew during MGCQ in one of the barangays that is Talikala’s project partner. Curfew is implemented to limit the movement of people thus, reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. I am not privy to the protocols of the implementation of this particular curfew like, where do you bring people when they violate the policy? Or is it subject to the apprehending officer? It is sad and painful to know that it happened in a barangay whose Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) is active in referring cases of child abuse including sexual abuse, to government and non-government organizations.

Another curfew which needs to be looked into is the Curfew of minors. This has been implemented for so long and child rights advocates have been pointing out that this is a status offense. It means to say that this policy is solely applicable to children because they are children and need to be protected. But the real talk here is the curfew has become a means to inflict harm to rescued children especially children in difficult circumstances like CICL, prostituted girls and street children. There is a clear protocol in the implementation of this policy and yet abuses still happen ranging from being hit by a batuta, box, and even sexual abuse. Are abuses part of the sanction when a law/policy is violated especially for children?

This is a serious problem and we need to look into policies we have crafted, passed and implemented especially for children protection. These policies should capacitate all the implementers from the city down to the purok level. Stronger protection mechanism for children should be developed and implemented especially during pandemic and disaster and this should not be an excuse of duty bearers. Barangay officials should continue to capacitate its people who are tasked to protect its citizenry. Respect for the rights of women, children, and all people shall be the fundamental orientation of all duty bearers. All duty bearers should ensure that all spaces from home, school and community are safe for our children.

As a child rights advocate, I am enraged by the incidence of sexual abuse and other forms of child abuse perpetrated by people who are supposed to be their protectors.

There might be other stories which we do not know but I want to send a message to other children that there are organizations and agencies of the government that you can ask for help.

Ms. Ampog is the executive director of Talikala Inc.

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