Montserrat to launch Breaking the Silence of Child Sexual Abuse Campaign in November
In November, Montserrat will add its voice to a regional campaign aimed at stopping child abuse across.
The campaign was initially launched in 2010 by Institute for Gender and Development Studies for the University of the West Indies in Trinidad & Tobago. The multi-media campaign, which uses a Blue Bear as the symbol, aims to increase public awareness about issues related to child sexual abuse and incest; about resources for preventing and responding to child sexual abuse and incest and to influence leaders to increase their commitment to develop policies and interventions.
“The cases of sexual abuse against children are increasing across the Caribbean and Montserrat is no exception,” Fergus said. The director noted that there has been a steady increase in the number of referrals of suspected child abuse. This has grown from only one in 2010 to three in 2011, five in 2012 and seven already for 2013.
Using the Blue Bear, the local campaign will involve a series of billboards, radio spots, mobile text messages sponsored by LIME and school programmes across the primary and secondary schools. Activities will also be held as part of the commemoration of Universal Children’s Day on November 20, 2013.
UNICEF calls child sexual abuse across the region a “silent emergency.” While most abuse is hidden and the available data does not reflect the actual magnitude of the problem we know that worldwide an estimated 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence (WHO; 2002). In the Caribbean, 47.6% of girls and 31.9% of boys reported that their first intercourse was forced or coerced by family members or family acquaintances (WHO; 2000).
In a study of adult survivors in the Caribbean, 30% of female respondents from Barbados, for example, “reported to be sexually abused during their childhood (UNICEF 2009).”
The Blue Bear is the recognized symbol of this campaign across the region as Blue underlines the popular idiom for “feeling blue,” or feelings of hurt, sadness and despair. The image has come to symbolize security, love, care, comfort and relationships as with a teddy bear. The plaster across the teddy bear’s heart was designed to offer a sense of hope and healing.