A Hell Night for a ChildDomestic Violence Newspapaer FORUM, Magazine 15:07, 24 February 2011
Journalist Marija Ilic
The most recent report by First Children’s Embassy Megjashi showed off that children still remain silent and suffer violence, and only a small percent of them dare to report sexual abuse, incest and pedophilia. There is no shelter for children who report so.“Boy raped in monastery,” “Mother enabled raping of her daughter…” shocking headlines from Macedonian media. But, everything ends with an article in police bulletin or one minute article on TV news. Simply, the politics has overshadowed the scary story about a boy who, instead in a warm home, lives in a hell from which is hard to find salvation.Alarming – truly – shocking. In last year there was growth of the sexual abuse against children and pedophilia. The public knows about the cases of Fritzl from Veles who sexually abused his daughters for years and the pedophilia case in the monastery Treskavec where 13 years old boy has been sexually abused for several weeks by two neighbors. The institutions of the system are the first parents of the abused child. But, their functioning in our country is still in initial phase.The data of Megjashi shows up that children are still reluctant to talk about abuse. From total of 239 reports last year, only 30 children were brave enough to call on the helpline and speak. The most common age of the victims of pedophilia is from seven to thirteen, while in most cases the offender is acquaintance or a close friend of the child or his family. The children are going through hell, but after the reporting they yet wait for a foster family to be found. Here is the first obstacle. From the Children’s Embassy for Forum say that there are no such families in several cities in the country. 72 Hours for Salvation Despite the internet revolution and all types of communication, children lack one of their basic needs. In Macedonia, there’s no 24 hours available SOS helpline where children – victim would report the violence after 8 pm, nor there is a shelter where they would stay until a permanent solution is found. Children can not report it and have to go through a hell night and wait for the next morning to seek for help.Dragi Zmijanac from Megjashi says that the first 72 hours after the reporting are crucial for the victim to be sheltered and begin getting over the trauma.“There are cases in which due to lack of foster families the child returns in the family, while the offender is in jail, but there are still mistakes in the process of rehabilitation. First, the child is not under close supervision by social care centers; second, the closest members of the family often pressure the child to change his statement in order the only member in the family who earns money to be released from this serious crime,” explained the director of Megjashi, Zmijanac. The state institution which should be the first who helps the vistims is the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy. They say that in such cases the social care centers seek for a foster family outside the place of residence of the child – victim. They have practice to not tell the parents where the child is, until a team of experts decide that they should know.Psychiatrists are the first who talk with the children – victims. Meri Boskovska, psychiatrist from the Institute for Mental Health of Children and Youth claims that the most important is stopping the abuse, but also the child shouldn’t be isolated from his primary family. For Forum, she says that the social interventions go through multidisciplinary planning and implementing according to the principle of child’s best interest.“It may include support of the non-abusive parent, of course, separating the child from abusive parent, and sanctioning of the abusive parent. The child’s safety is important, but also avoiding the automatic adoption of measures which are applied once and can be counterproductive. This may lead to additional emotional suffering of the child,” said Boskovska. Doctor Boskovska added that if the child remain in the family the support and advising of the non-abusive parent is very important.The official annual report of the First Children’s Embassy Megjashi showed off that the physical and psychological abuses, as well as the negligence, are the most reported cases every year on the SOS helpline. There were reported 43 cases last year, 25 of them for physical abuse against children. Lack of funds for shelter The First Children’s Embassy has long been committed to opening a shelter and they say that they have sent a request to the Committee last February, but the Government hasn’t answered yet. While we lack such shelters, in the region there’s no country without it. For example, in neighbors Serbia, there are shelters in several cities, while in capital Belgrade it is functioning for 53 years, supported by the Government and other institutions.From the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy say that they were aware of the need of a shelter for victims of sexual abuse, incest and pedophilia, but they lack funds to open it.“Having in regard the financial difficulties we are facing in recent period (world economic crisis) we have no funds for this purpose. In 2009, after the adoption of the Action Plan for Prevention and Dealing with Sexual Abuse against Children and Pedophilia, we had negotiations with NGO Megjashi for opening SOS helpline and signing memorandum of cooperation, we also talked about opening shelter at Megjashi, which lavished with a room that could be used for this purpose,” they say, but having in mind that it needs to function 24 hours a day, from Megjashi thought that they have no capacity to open it in their premises. As to 24-hour SOS line ministry has informed that in negotiations with telecommunications companies to obtain a free line and they hope that this issue will be resolved as soon as possible.It's only 7, 95 percent of the cases reported by children and the rest are reported by adults despite the fear to talk about violations of their rights, experts say that shows lack of trust among youth in the system and the institutions that deal with this issue.For now, children – victims can call on the SOS helpline where they can get information, advice or just to talk about their issue, but, as operators say, they can not offer them ready-made solutions for the problems. “We offer alternatives for solving the problem in order the caller to find solution himself” the report by Megjashi says, under the motto “No silence for Violence.”The legal services acts by written appeals to the relevant institutions and the services are free of charge.“Social workers work on the field after report about child’s abuse. However, we should work on raising of public awareness for the people to understand the meaning of this problem and the need of reporting this kind of cases in the Social care centers,” say from the Ministry.It seems that everything comes down to various campaigns and actions to encourage children and young people to report crime, not remain silent, but the most crucial in the process can not be offered to them at this moment.Let’s get back on the beginning. We will read more shocking headlines in the media for sure, but the institutions are obliged to have a decisive fight against the hell of every abused child and the base of the agenda to be - never to be repeated.
Translate Petar Todorovski