Rising violence against kids triggers call to ‘act’

JEDDAH: Marwa Haddad & Khadija Habib

Published — Monday 25 February 2013

Last update 1 March 2013 4:25 pm

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Twelve children died as a result domestic violence in 2012, double the number from the previous year, according to Maha Al-Muneef, executive director of the National Family Safety Program (NFSP).
These cases are recorded at hospitals’ protection centers, she said recently on the sidelines of the celebrations of the World Thinking Day for Girl Guides and Scouts.
The 12 deaths jumped dramatically from six child deaths in 2011 and five reported in 2010.
A recent report by hospitals protection centers showed center personnel recorded 200 cases of child abuse in one year. Eighty percent of the cases were violence against children that resulted in severe injuries, and 20 percent were sexual abuse incidents.
“Unfortunately violence against children is mostly perpetrated by the parents,” Al-Muneef said.
Al-Muneef said a recent study that included more than 58 countries showed that in seven years, the rate of domestic violence ranged between 3 percent and as high as 70 percent of the population.
“The Kingdom’s rate is between 20 percent and 30 percent, which should makes us work on facing the issue by all means to curb it,” she said. “The NSFP is working on eliminating physical, sexual, mental abuse and negligence.”
Most of those affected by these types of abuse are women, girls, children, the elderly and people with special needs. The seventh National Society for Human Rights’ report that showed that 20 percent of the cases received by the society in 2010 are of domestic violence, which is the highest the NSHR had received since its inception. In these cases, female victims numbered 57 while boys accounted for 25 cases.
Shoura Council member Thuraya Al-Oraidh said she hoped the issue of violence against children would be put for discussion at the council among other issues that are of concern of a large proportion of the society.
Cases of violence against children are not new but the media did not bring them up as most of individuals in society considered it a family affair.
However, given an increased public awareness that admits the problem, the media has focused on it currently, she said.
Al-Oraidh did not think that child abuse is increasing, but public awareness has improved reporting of such case.The National Family Safety Program recorded more than 500 cases of violence against children in 2011.
Hussien Al-Sharif, president of the National Society of Human Rights (NSHR), called for accelerating the issuance of the Violence Against Women and Children Act that criminalizes such acts. He said that the problem is becoming worse due to the delay in issuing the act although it was discussed in the Shoura Council. The implementation of the act that determines penalties and jurisdictions of all parties in such cases, including the criminalization of those who know about violence cases but do not report them, would solve the issue.

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