Sunday, October 1

Sexual abuse against minors increases to scandalous levels in Venezuela

Ramona Vargas, a cleaning worker, complains about the Venezuelan education system. “My two children go to public school only twice a week. That way they won’t learn anything and I don’t know how to occupy them in my free time », she says lamentingly, while the Public ministry alert about the 7,165 cases of sexual abuse against minors.

She lives in Petare, the most populous and demographically dense neighborhood in Latin Americawith 800,000 inhabitants, but works as an assistant in middle-class residences in Caracas. “After the pandemic everything has gotten worse. My children have no other option than to be on the street or live locked up in the ranch (shanty) because they can’t even go to school anymore,” says Ramona.

The new school hours in Venezuela two days imposed by the teachers’ union. Until not long ago, teachers taught classes five days a week. And the Ministry of Education was strict in complying with school hours but the obligation has been relaxed since the union decided to reduce the school day because they earn just 5 dollars a month and that is not even enough to pay for transportation to public schools.

The student population Venezuelan is from 8.7 million of minors, of which 1.3 million children and adolescents study in the private sector. But, 85% of young people study in the public sector, according to figures from the ENCOVI survey from the Andrés Bello Catholic University (UCAB).

ENCOVI is concerned about drop in school coverage in the population from 3 to 5 years. The number of students who remained outside the educational system during the period 2021-2022 is estimated at more than 1.5 million. This means that almost half of the children between these ages are out of initial education, which will have important repercussions on the cumulative development of learning of these eventual students.

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“This educational exclusion It affects the poorest and most vulnerable to a greater extent and systematically, since the public educational offer is limited and the private one is expensive,” says UCAB.

To this is added the deterioration of the physical plant of public institutions, lack of water, toilets, paint, educational materials, which has caused the closure of public schools.

What worries Ramona is the excess of free time that her adolescent children have in public school and the danger they are exposed to on the street because “I have to work and I don’t have how to take care of them”.

The danger in the street has a thousand forms

The Public Ministry has recorded 7,165 cases of sexual abuse against minors since August of last year, when the ‘Pedophilia is Crime’ program began to combat this scourge, according to the attorney general Tarek William Saab.

On November 2, prosecutor Saab counted 1,024 cases of child sexual abuse so far in 2022. The increase in these crimes in a few months is scandalous. Likewise, he said that 2,317 people have been accused of this crime and 1,355 have already been convicted.

Given these data, the prosecutor announced the creation of a “macro Prosecutor’s Office” with national competence to protect the sexual integrity of young people and “increase the capacity” of attention of the Public Ministry, as well as the defense of the victims. But as long as the Public Ministry does not go to the root of the problem As is improving the comprehensive education system, sexual assault against minors will continue and increase every year, analysts say.

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Venezuela has the second lowest score in preventing sexual abuse against children and adolescents in Latin America, according to the latest report from the Out of Shadows Index, published in March by Economist Impact. «Of the 60 countries included in the Out of the Shadows IndexVenezuela is ranked 47th globally, with a score of 43.8 out of a possible maximum of 100. Thus, Venezuela has the second lowest score among the Latin American and Caribbean countries included in the report» , reads the document.

Children and adolescents are the most vulnerable segment of society. The migratory crisis that has pushed more than 7 million Venezuelans out of their borders has left almost a million children abandoned by their parents in the care of their aunts and grandparents, says the website ‘Historias que laten’.

Ramona expects a miracle from the Venezuelan educational system to which the chavista regime pays little attention and care so that students can learn and reject sexual offenders and be good citizens.

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