Travelling exhibition to address child abuse launched

Artwork of an abused child at the launch of the exhibition
Artwork of an abused child at the launch of the exhibition

By Kizzy Coleman

In an effort to bring more awareness to the struggles of children who have been sexually abused, UNICEF, in collaboration with the European Union, the Social Protection and Public Security Ministries, the Guyana Police Force and local NGOs, has set up a travelling exhibition which will display the artwork of sexually abused children.

According to statistics, more than 670 cases of child sexual abuse were reported to the Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA); as such, the organisations joined hands to reinforce the message that sexual abuse is unacceptable.

The objective of the exhibition is to highlight through the child’s eye the pain, hurt, anger and shame that they live with each day.

Another painting done by a sexually abused child
Another painting done by a sexually abused child

Police Stations across the country will be used to showcase some of the artwork of the travelling exhibition.

Speaking at the exhibition launch, Assistant Commissioner of Police, David Ramnarine reiterated the importance that the Police must give to any movement that seeks to protect children.

He noted that children were the leaders of the future and the leaders of tomorrow and, as such, the Police Force is committed to giving children the necessary treatment, responses and attention that are available in the justice system.

“Already we have started a process of enhancing the way our investigators operate in such cases. We will ensure that they get some special training in this regard,” he disclosed.

In delivering her remarks, UNICEF representative Marilyn Flatt explained that the paintings all displayed the marks that sexual abuse had left on our children. She added that violence in all of its forms should be prevented.

She noted that in Guyana, an average of 2000 cases of neglect and abuse are reported every year.

“Children often remain silent because it is difficult to talk about abuse, they are too afraid and are not sure where to turn to. Children need to know that they need to speak up and not to be afraid and to speak up when they are touched inappropriately,” she explained.

She further noted that education on this issue was essential currently in Guyana.

“We can prevent and protect children from suffering, abuse and violence beginning in early childhood through parenting education and changing attitudes and beliefs that encourage violence and discrimination at an early age. Educating families, caregivers and parents on their child’s early development increase the likelihood that they will use positive disciplining methods and thus reduce the risk of violence within the home.”

Delivering the feature address, First Lady Sandra Granger stated that it gave her no pleasure to speak at the launching of a travelling exhibition for abused children as it was a sad reflection of how “we as a society continue to fail our children particularly in addressing sexual violence against them”.

She noted the danger of the Internet in contributing to children being abused.

“Increasingly, the Internet and mobile phone also put children at risk of social violence as some adults look to the Internet to pursue sexual relationships with children. There is also an increase in the number circulation of images showing child abuse.”

In 2014, UNICEF estimated that 1 in 10 girls under the age of 20 that is about 120 million girl children were subjected to sexual intercourse at some point in their life. This, the First Lady noted, is very sad to hear.

Mrs Granger hopes that the travelling exhibition can reach all the administrative regions in Guyana which will show that law enforcement is becoming attuned to its responsibility to protect and serve all.