By Ingrid Fernandez/ Staff Journalist
The European Union, this week, made a $100,000 donation to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to fight child abuse in the Belize.
EU Ambassador to Belize, Paolo Amadei, in her last undertaking in that role, was on hand for the donation.
Sexual abuse statistics in Belize are staggering, according to the organization. UNICEF Belize Director Ivan Yerovi said in Belize, everyday a girl is raped so for UNICEF, ending violence against children is a priority. The organization also plans to sensitize the community about the urgency of addressing the issue.
“Viloence, sexual abuse, corporal punishment are not normal ways of living. It is not normal that a child should be punished,” Yerovi said.
The grant will be used to fund campaigns and advertisements that raise awarness about the problems sexual abuse victims face.
Yerovi said the legal system also needs to be strengthened so it is able to better defend children when they report cases of abuse.
UNICEF also plans to partner with local and national agencies to empower children to report instances of abuse. The organization is also championing a Child Friendly Court, which is being piloted in Toledo.
In an effort to reduce the level of re-victimization that abused children sometimes face by their abuser, Child Friendly Courts carry out the trial in a feasible way and protects the child’s identity. There are also plans to open courts in San Ignacio.
UNICEF is securing funds to build the infrastructure for the Child Friendly Court and the Supreme Court is putting forward the staff necessary to provide support to children that have suffered abuse.
UNICEF and other partners provide psycho-social support and legal support for children who have been abused and work in communities to increase awareness of the problem.