How we deal with abuse is important

Editorial

IF only a law could put a stop to all forms of abuse.
But as we have seen with recent police reports, making laws more comprehensive and penalties more severe is not helping to reduce the number of offences or even eliminate them.
While we applaud the various penalties imposed on crimes committed against children, spare a thought for the victim and how she can get back into society.
Last week, the Goroka National Court sentenced a 35-year-old man to 23 years imprisonment after he was convicted of kidnapping a child and persistently abusing her sexually.
That is how cruel and ruthless the perpetrator is, denying a little girl the right to grow up in a family environment.
The girl was kidnapped when she was six and a half years old and escaped almost six years later.
She was kidnapped in January 2009 and escaped around October 2015.
It is generally agreed that an individual who is convicted on kidnapping charges with a child, especially for reasons such as sexual abuse, deserves a harsh prison sentence.
The penalty, though severe, can never replace the dignity of the little girl.
One cannot describe the sentence as fair with justice being served she and many victims of similar cases will carry the mental scars for the rest of their lives.
Researchers have found that child abuse and neglect affects not only children but also the adults they become.
Its effects cascade throughout their life, with costly consequences for individuals, families and society. These effects are seen in all aspects of human functioning, including physical and mental health, as well as important areas such as education, work, and social relationships.
And that is why children who have been neglected, abused or exploited should receive special help to physically and psychologically recover and reintegrate into society.
Particular attention should be paid to restoring the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.
Sadly, this is not something we in PNG can be proud of.
Such help is very scarce or not readily available.
The Government has the responsibility to take all available measures to make sure children’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.
This involves assessing their social services, legal, health and educational systems.
It is important to find help as soon as possible.
Many people feel that talking about child sex abuse is taboo, even though we know it happens and we know that it’s a crime.
Some survivors are cut off from supports like family, friends and community members when they talk about their experiences.
This isolation can make it harder for the victim to heal and feel well again.
Every year, many people are sexually assaulted in PNG and most times only child sexual abuse cases are reported to the authorities.
No evil or indignity is worse than sexual assault. It’s often a crime kept secret – unspoken of by the victims, by the perpetrators and even family members.
Sexual violence and abuse can have psychological, emotional, and physical effects on a survivor.
Those effects aren’t always easy to deal with, but with the right help and support, they can be managed.
Counselling services should be provided in a coordinated fashion, and considered in conjunction with similar services provided by schools and other community groups.
Thought must also be given to providing support and counselling to those caring for the child.

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