Special Envoy says fear and shame cause child sex abuse to go unreported

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Kim Simplis Barrow

Kim Simplis Barrow

Monday, February 9, 2015. BMG: Special Envoy for Women and Children Kim Simplis Barrow today called on parents and guardians to put the well-being, safety and protection of their children ahead of everything else.

A statement from the Special’s Envoy’s office comes in the wake of charges being brought against the area representative for Orange Walk East, Dr. Marco Tulio Mendez last week.

Dr. Marco Tulio Mendez

Dr. Marco Tulio Mendez

Dr. Mendez was charged with aggravated assault of an indecent nature and common assault, based upon reports from two minors.

Without mentioning the Dr. Mendez case by name, the Special Envoy’s statement said that “in light of the grave allegations recently made against a Belizean public figure,” Mrs. Barrow is urging “all persons involved to ensure that this highly sensitive issue is handled with the best interests of the affected children as the priority.”

Marco Tulio Mendez

Marco Tulio Mendez

She further stated that “this is an opportunity to rise above political lines and raise awareness on a serious issue that continues to be seen as taboo.”

That taboo issue, according to Mrs. Barrow is “child sexual abuse, in all its forms,” which the Special Envoy says “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.”

Statement from Special Envoy

Statement from Special Envoy

Mrs. Barrow, in her statement, said that fear and shame have crippled “too many victims and their families,” which in turn causes many cases to be overlooked and go unreported.

“It is also very important to understand the dynamics of child sexual abuse that makes it difficult for children to disclose their abuse,” the Special Envoy’s statement says, further noting that “it is not uncommon for victims of child abuse to wait until adulthood to speak out.”

For this reason, the Special Envoy says, it is “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.”

It is in that light that Mrs. Barrow ends her statement by challenging parents and guardians to put the well-being of their children first.

“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,” the Special Envoy’s statement says.

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