Coordinator of the Child Abuse Prevention Unit, Jemma Azille-Lewis said that statistics show that there 128 children were sexually abused in Dominica in 2015.
She was speaking at the launch of a book on child abuse at the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU) building on Wednesday, noting that child abuse continues to be a growing problem in Dominica and is a cause for grave concern.
“For instance, when we look at the statistics for 2015, we see that our children continue to be abused in different forms,” she noted. “In 2015, we had a total of 189 cases reported of child abuse and out of that 189, 128 of these were sexual related matters. Seventy-three cases out of this 189, were children within the ages of 0 to 10.”
Based on the statistics, Azille-Lewis said babies are being abused on the island.
“So it shows that our children as young as babies are being abused. Some are neglected, some are abandoned, some are physically abused, sexually abused, emotionally abused and some children suffer from more than one form of abuse. We should be concerned about that,” she noted.
She stated that statistics from 2010 to 2015 show a total of 1,095 reported cases of child abuse in Dominica.
“I think this is too much,” she argued. “For a country like ours with our population, this is too much. Sadly, when our children are abused, it is by the persons whom they know, the persons whom they love, the person who they trust. The very same persons who are supposed to protect them, these are the ones who are their abusers.”
Azille-Lewis indicated that the effects of child abuse on children are long-lasting.
“Sometimes the children don’t say anything, nothing is done, parents condone it, hide it,” she noted. We have to all take a stand to stop the abuse of our children.”
She firmly believes that if all sectors work together with one focus, while making available all the necessary resources to combat this societal ill, “we can help save our nation’s children.”
Meantime Minister for Social Services, Family and Gender Affairs Catherine Daniel said the abuse of boys are on the increase.
“We often say that our girls are at risk, but the data shows that, though to a lesser extent, the boys are also at risk and it is increasing,” she noted.
Daniel indicated that in 2010 there were 39 reported cases of boys being abused but in 2015 the number has jumped to 47 boys, “being violated in whatever way.”
He stated that there are too many reported cases of child abuse in Dominica.
“Indeed child abuse has been a problem in Dominica for decades past and in recent times,” she stated. “There have unfortunately been too many reported cases, with child sexual abuse being the most relevant.”
She described child abuse as a ‘scourge that should be wiped out’ completely from every country, “and the success of the battle to eradicate it depends on the collaboration of all stakeholders.”
She said her ministry will remain relentless in its efforts, “to stop this monstrosity” through the child Abuse Prevention Unit of the Welfare Division.