Request for responsibility from the governmental institutions for protection of the children victims of sexual abuse and more severe punishments for the perpetrators
On the occasion of the four cases of sexual abuse:
- Incest and rape of a daughter (aged 12) and her friend (aged 12), children with mental impairments, by T.P. (aged 51) from Bogomila;
- H.D. (aged 35) from Veles suspected of attempting to rape his fiancee’s daughter (aged 14);
- The Macedonian citizen Ljupco V. arrested in Herzeg Novi, Montenegro, after being suspected of touching minors;
- Jove K. (aged 40) from Stip, raped one of the two 13-year-old boys, wards of the Foster Home for Parentless Children “11 Oktomvri” in Skopje.
The First Children’s Embassy in the World - Megjashi on 26 June, 2008, requested from the judges that they punished paedophiles, children rapists, as well as those committing incests, with the most severe sentences of 10 and 15 years of imprisonment, and with life imprisonment for the most difficult cases.
In Macedonia there are legal punitive grounds for passing the cruelest sentences to paedophiles and the sexual offenders of children, but still the judges continue to pass mild sentences.
We demand that the courts prevent the children victims of sexual abuse during a legal procedure to face the perpetrator. The statement that the child will give in the court should be a single statement given in attendance of the judge, the psychologist, pedagogue, and a representative from the Centers for Social Work, in a special screen room. To be a witness or a victim of a crime, and then participate in a court discussion, is a very difficult experience for adults, let alone for children. The child is ashamed to talk about what had happened. Sometimes, he/she may feel guilty, lost, scared and abandoned, afraid that he/she may not meet the adults’ expectations.
The most severe punishments of life imprisonment for offenders who committed sexual assault of a child, as a punitive measure, since the perpetrators of these criminal acts are in a complete isolation, can help prevent from sexual assaults of children by the same perpetrators and also serve as a warning for all future cases.
We also demanded responsibility from the headquarters of the Foster Home for Parentless Children “11 Oktomvri” from Skopje for their neglect of the missing children, one of which was a hostage for 23 days of the paedophile Jove Kostadinovski (aged 40) from the village Sasavarlija, Stip. There must be a primary, secondary and tertiary prevention to conduct activities which will result in decline in these cases and activities for re-socialization and rehabilitation of the victims of sexual abuse. The next thing we question is what will happen to this child who has been abused and tormented for 23 days? Who will bear responsibility for the consequences from the trauma that this child has suffered?
We also believe that in the case with the paedophile T.P. (aged 51) and the sexual abuse of his daughter (aged 12) and her friend (aged 12), both with developmental impairments and wards of the special primary school “Maca Ovcarovska” from Veles, this public institution should have an insight into the condition of the children as their wards.
The abuse of children (sexual, economic, physical and the rest kinds of abuse) is a serious problem which demands a lot of attention, protection and action on all levels. This means synchronized and mutual preventive action of all relevant factors which have a part in the upbringing and caring of children, such as the family, governmental institutions, citizen organizations and the media.
We reminded the governmental institutions in charge that the Republic of Macedonia had ratified the Convention of the European Council for child protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (2007) and the Convention for Children’s Rights and has obliged to respect all rights provided by this Convention. The last cases of sexual abuse of children are another example of the cruelest violation of children’s rights guaranteed by the Convention. In accordance with the Article 34 from the Convention, the signatory countries are obliged to protect children form all kinds of sexual abuse and sexual molestation. For this purpose, it is especially important that the member countries take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures for prevention of the worst types of sexual abuse and harassment.
We consider as highly important that the violence isn’t kept in silence, and therefore we encourage the children, their parents and the closest relations to report sexual violence and abuse. Our information from the SOS help line for children and youth 0 800 1 22 22 tells that out of a total of 17 100 calls reported since the foundation of this service 15 years ago, 9.83% from the callers, or 1739 calls were on violence and abuse. In 2007, 13.5% from the total number of phone calls were the worst cases of child abuse. But the dark number, i.e. the number of the unreported cases of child abuse in the reality is far bigger. The world data shows that 70% of the cases of sexual abuse remain unreported as a result of fear, shame and ignorance the children feel, the reaction from the society, as well as fear from the suspense form the consequences they would face. The First Children’s Embassy in the World - Megjashi is continuously working on this problem, by offering psycho-social support and free legal advice and advocacy.
Parents have special responsibility in the care, protection and providing of a safe childhood to their children. They should pay special attention to their children and protect them from possible types of abuse. Responsible parenthood is the best prevention from child abuse. What concerns is the fact that a pathology on a collective level is recorded in our country. We are more and more often introduced to new cases of sexual violence and paedophilia, a decline of moral values, and harming what we consider most precious - the children. Children are a symbol of life, future and hope.
We demand from the Centers for Social Work to have a more thorough insight and to take appropriate measures for prevention and supervision of dysfunctional families. The government should invest in the increase of the Centers for Social Work’s capacities in realization of activities for child protection. The Centers for Social Work should be more mobile and efficient, follow continuously the condition for possible abuses of children in risk families, as well as take appropriate measures and thus act preventively. They could make the biggest contribution in the prevention form child abuse since they are in immediate contact (or at least they should be) with the families in critical condition. They have a significant role in re-socialization, reintegration and rehabilitation of children in order to overcome the consequences faster and easier.