Friday, February 23, 2018

Stand up, defend our children

Two items speak volumes about this Government's apparently cavalier attitude toward the protection of our children.

ONE Minister Coudray's reported statement that "more training is needed" before the Children's Bill can be proclaimed. We're doing the best we can seems to be her message. Unfortunately that is not nearly good enough.

She is quoted in the same article as saying that abuse of children is "manifested as sporadic outbursts". I was an abused child and I can state with authority that abuse occurs every single day when the opportunity presents itself or when it is created.

She continues in the same vein about the under-funded Children's Authority "I do not think there is any government ministry... that is adequately resourced, and therefore we are trying with the limited resources that we have."

It sounds as if she has no teeth and no clout. What use then is this Minister to the voiceless in our society? Her statements indicate not only a lack of will but a loss of force as well.

TWO The Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2012 was debated recently in Parliament and much talk centred around underage girls from 12 years up forced to marry because of religious custom. Mr Ramadhar then spoke of the "sensitive religious issues requiring consultation with stakeholders" as it pertains to the Bill.

I ask: (i) Will the Minister of Legal Affairs and other Ministry officials be consulting the young girls who have no say on whether they want to be married to a 30, 40, or 60-something year old man? (ii) Is the public aware that statutory rape is defined as a male adult having sexual intercourse with an underage person? (iii) Does the public know that paedophilia is described as an adult who is sexually attracted to a child or children? (iv) Why does one have to be 17 years to obtain a driver's permit but you can get married (with parental consent!) at 12 years old? (v) Can the Minister categorically state that all underage girls forced to become child brides are documented? (vi) Why does the abuse of the child under the guise of religion take precedence over the natural human rights of the child?

If this Government truly had the interests of the children at the forefront of its agenda, more than adequate funding and other physical resources would have been allocated to the toothless Children's Authority. Over-funding the Ministry of National Security was obviously preferable!

The seeds of violence are nurtured in the home for the most part and we are now reaping the whirlwind.

The children's psyches are being destroyed little by little, exacerbated by the lip service being paid to this issue and the execrable excuses. Isn't it time we all stand up and do something about it?

Catherine Hidalgo

via e-mail