Social Welfare dept organises workshop to dicuss child abuse

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Aizawl, Sep 27 (UNI) In view of the increasing child abuse and minor rapes in Mizoram since the past few years, the state Social Welfare department sponsored a consultation workshop here today.

Social Welfare director and chairman of the workshop Vanchungnunga said even though surveys and researches conducted by organisations and individuals on child abuse were given due importance, those conducted by the concerned department, that is Social Welfare, were supposed to be more reliable.

However, he added, such surveys could not be conducted as often as desired due to financial constraints and inadequate manpower.

He also pointed out that his department did not agree with the recent survey which placed Mizoram at the second highest position for child sexual abuse in the country because nothing was known about the methodology employed in the research.

However, he admitted that child abuse had been increasing at an alarming rate in Mizoram.

During the discussion, the issues of pornography through compact discs, internet and Direct To Home (DTH) were raised and emphasis was put on the need to have strict measures to control pornographic materials.

In her research paper, Dr Vanlaldiki (psychiatrist) also blamed the free and liberated Mizo society as one of the main factors for child abuse in Mizoram.

Father Lawrence and director of the Catholic Church's organisation Zoram Entu Pawl alleged that Christian values such as forgiveness encouraged child sexual abuse and rapes because the offenders often got pardon rather than punishment.

Police officials informed the workshop that majority of rape cases registered during the past five years were against minors, while it was also found that most of the cases took place between close relatives.

Significantly, only one case of sexual abuse against male child had been registered so far, the police officials added.

However, the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) stated that the number of child abuse cases was much higher.

CWC chairperson Lalengruali Sailo said the committee had received only one child abuse case in 2005, which was the year the Juvenile Justice Act came into force in Mizoram.

The number increased to 17 during 2006, which skyrocketed to a whopping 39 in 2007, she said adding that 57 of the 382 child abuse cases registered by them were sexual abuse.

Of these cases, Ms Sailo revealed that biological fathers were the offenders in four cases, step or adopted fathers in seven cases, uncles, brothers, step-brothers and cousins in 11 cases, close neighbours in 19 cases, officials looking after children homes in four cases, teachers in eight cases and complete strangers only in three cases.

The resolutions arrived at the consultation workshop included more allocation of funds for the Social Welfare department, building a network between NGOs, churches and the government, having a childline (a telephone line that children in trouble can use in emergencies), sex education within the family, schools and Sunday schools and awareness campaigns in remote parts of the state.

UNI

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