20 | AGO | 2019
Child sexual abuse cases up 39% in Mexico
In Mexico, only the victim’s parents or guardians are legally capable of filing a criminal complaint in case of child sexual abuse - Photo: Alma Rodríguez Ayala/EL UNIVERSAL

Child sexual abuse cases up 39% in Mexico

30/04/2019
14:49
Alexis Ortiz
Mexico City
-A +A
The State of Mexico showed the highest number of child sexual abuse cases (701) in 2018

Over the past three years, sexual abuse of minors showed a 39% increase in Mexico. While 2,081 cases were registered in 2015, the number rose to 2,919 in 2018.

It is a problem which affects nearly every Mexican state, though according to the Executive Secretariat of the Public Security National System, the State of Mexico showed the highest number of child sexual abuse cases in 2018, with a total of 701. Meanwhile, 320 cases were registered in Baja California during the same period, 317 in Nuevo León, 271 in Puebla, and 218 in Chihuahua.

Regarding an increase in equated rape cases against minors, Juan Martín Pérez, head of the Network for Children’s Rights (REDIM), claimed that “in eight out of every 10 sexual abuse cases against minors, the abuser is a family member.”

“In Mexico’s legal world, a minor’s testimony is rarely taken into account. Only the victim’s parents or guardians are legally capable of filing a criminal complaint in said cases, even though sometimes the child’s parents and guardians are behind the abuse,” Pérez added.

According to the REDIM, only one out of every 10 crimes committed against minors has lead to a sentence.

Within this context, equated and statutory rape have found fertile ground to endure, outweighing other criminal acts such as sexual harassment, according to data provided by the secretariat.

The numbers show that 2019 could become the year with the most sexual abuse cases against minors in Mexico’s modern history since 837 cases were registered between January and March.

The State of Mexico still tops the list with the most child sexual abuse cases (209); followed by Puebla, with 90; Chihuahua, 81; Nuevo León, 73, and Baja California, 72.

“We have detected an increase, but we are more concerned about the fact that our numbers may be unreliable. Equated rape has a strong impact on the victim’s development and the crime is still under-reported. As long as we don’t have the full information on the full impact of these crimes, it will be harder to work to defend the rights of children,” stated Sandy Poiré, head of Quality and International Affairs at Save The Children Mexico.

The trauma of child sexual abuse is not impossible to treat, but the victim must be subject to both physical and psychological therapy.

Experts considered that each person dealt with the trauma in a different way, though they agreed that victims should be subject to treatment for at least two years.

“Mexico’s new administration should implement a national policy measure and strengthen its judicial system to protect minors. Violence against this segment of the population is usually ignored because abuse cases are often deemed ‘a family matter’,” Sandy Poiré concluded.

A silent crime

Sharon Linnet Lara, a psychologist who specializes in child sexual abuse, warned that, in 90% of cases, this type of crime does not start in a violent way, but as some kind of game.

“Abusers tell their victims that by caressing them and kissing them, they are showing their love, or that it’s all part of a game. Thus, they earn the minor’s trust until the abuse is committed,” she stated.

The specialist added that some telltale signs to determine whether a child has fallen victim to rape are: Lesions in the genital area, constant nightmares, great fear towards a particular adult, the enactment of sexual conducts that are not age-appropriate, incontinence, and a resistance to accept demonstrations of affection.

“It is very important for parents to strengthen their relationships with their children since it is often the victim’s close friends and teachers who first learn about the abuse.”
 

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