[nasional_list] [ppiindia] Cases of Child Abuse on the Rise

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**http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1&section=0&article=85599&d=19&m=7&y=2006&pix=kingdom.jpg&category=Kingdom

Wednesday, 19, July, 2006 (23, Jumada al-Thani, 1427)


      Cases of Child Abuse on the Rise
      Raid Qusti, Arab News 

        
      RIYADH, 19 July 2006 - According to officials at the National Guard 
Hospital, three children have so far died at the hospital's emergency room as a 
result of child abuse suffered at home. One of the three children had multiple 
fractures after being abused by the family maid.

      Dr. Maha Al-Muneef of the newly established National Family Safety 
Program (NFSP), said the National Guard Hospital received a disproportionate 12 
cases in the past six months, in comparison to an average of 10 to 12 cases 
last year.

      She said that the cases the NFSP had received so far were "serious", and 
children that needed immediate medical attention had been admitted into 
hospital. "Some of the children needed admitting into the intensive care unit 
and others required surgery," she said, adding that many of the children 
admitted since last year suffered from head injuries, multiple fractures, and 
bleeding in the abdomen area. "I know that there are cases out there that do 
not make it to the hospital," said Dr. Maha.

      The NFSP was established by a Royal Decree from Custodian of the Two Holy 
Mosques King Abdullah in November last year, and has been extending its efforts 
to prevent domestic violence in the Kingdom. The NFSP's other mission is to 
create awareness about domestic violence in the Kingdom.

      The program has been energetic since its establishment and has been 
operating under the umbrella of the National Guard Health Affairs in four main 
areas: Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Al-Hasa, and will soon start in Madinah.

      Despite being limited in services, Dr. Maha says, "That does not mean 
that the NFSP awareness or prevention campaign will not reach other cities and 
villages in the Kingdom."

      However, people working in the program face many challenges, such as the 
lack of a hotline for emergency calls, the lack of shelters, and above all, the 
absence of a law dealing with domestic violence and detailing punishments 
offenders should be given.

      The program, which receives both physical abuse cases and sexual abuse 
cases, consists of social workers, physicians, psychologists and security 
officials who work in cooperation with each other.

      In most sexual abuse cases dealt by the NFSP, offenders tend to be family 
members. "Most of the time offenders are very well-known to the child: A 
relative, an uncle, an elder brother, etc." As for physical abuse cases, 90 
percent of them were related to the mother, father, stepmother or stepfather. 
"We are now seeing a small percentage of physical abuse cases concerning 
housemaids," she added.

      Dr. Maha said the NFSP was faced with the challenge of creating awareness 
among medical staff working in the Kingdom. "We do not have specialized people 
in clinics who do not know what is normal and what is not when a child is 
sexually molested," she said. As a result, "the system abuses children more 
than what they have been abused with already."

      Dr. Maha said that attitudes toward child abuse are changing. "People are 
no longer considering the matter to be a private family matter that does not 
require intervention from the authorities. Unfortunately that was the thought 
in the past, not just by the father or mother, but also by the medical staff 
who used to believe such cases to be a private family matter," she said.

      Dr. Maha said NFSP officials were working alongside the Ministry of 
Social Affairs and the National Society for Human Rights.
     


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