The proposal to give a $ 75 subsidy to raped and pregnant girls 12 years of age or less ignited the debate on the sexual abuse of minors in Panama, where reports of these cases are growing amid the “insensitivity” of a society accustomed to see girls turned into mothers, experts told EFE.
The promoter of the project, the pro-government deputy and vice president of the National Assembly, Cenobia Vargas, has already announced that she will ask during the first parliamentary debate, which is expected to begin this Monday, the elimination of the article on monetary support, in response to “opinions for and against “it.
“It will be eliminated and I can make a ‘mea culpa’ (…) last week I knew the girl of 11 who was sexually abused in Chiriquí and became pregnant. I had mixed feelings, I think that was what motivated me to subsidy article (…) to see this girl with pigtails (in her hair) still and a 7-month pregnancy, “the deputy said in public statements.
Vargas now wants the discussion to focus on the other point of his proposal, which is to create a mechanism that “gives follow-up to pedophiles” and that includes the prohibition of them living near schools or parks frequented by children, as preventive measures to avoid being victims of these.
But the discussion is already served, and it ranges from the legal protection that abortion in case of rape has in Panama to the sexual education imparted at school, an initiative that has been torpedoed for years by groups that call themselves pro-family.
A “CRUEL” PROPOSAL
For the psychologist Eusebia Silva, from the organization Espacio de Encuentro de Mujeres, the original bill was “cruel”, because it was not put “on the body and in the shoes of a girl who has been the victim of a crime, which also it conditions that they have to give birth to the consequence of that crime, and that they are going to give them money “for it.
“Having sexual relations with a minor and making her pregnant is a violation. The Panamanian Penal Code allows abortion in case of rape. Why are we going to encourage a girl 12 years old or less who has become pregnant due to sexual abuse become a mother if abortion is allowed? “Silva, a women’s rights defender, told Efe.
For this psychologist, the reactions to the proposal posted on social networks, several of them about the concern that the State would have another expense, revealed the “insensitivity” of a society that has “normalized” seeing girls turned into mothers.
“We have a country where since the 1970s 20% of children are born to underage women, and the rate has increased in the last 10 years, it is around 30%. And the Panamanian State has done nothing” to respect, he asserted.
REPORTS OF SEXUAL RAPE OF MINORS INCREASE
The organization Aliados Por La Niñez y La Adolescencia requested that the bill be shelved, and that progress be made in the implementation of public policies “that address the underlying causes that produce violence” as well as in “laws that guarantee the integral protection” of minors to “decrease the growing number of cases” of sexual abuse against them.
The organization cited figures from the Public Ministry: in 2018, 4,105 rapes of girls, boys and adolescents were reported in Panama, that is, 64% of all cases, and in 2019 an increase in underage victims of 23% was reported In both years, 91% of the victims were girls and adolescent women.
Faced with this reality, the NGO proposed that public protection policies be structured and designed “to combat impunity and promote zero tolerance for sexual violence” against girls, boys and adolescents.
Also that access to restorative justice and guarantor of their rights be ensured, avoiding re-victimization, and that comprehensive sexual education be included in schools to be able to recognize the different forms of violence, in order to prevent it and denounce it appropriately. ”
Another proposal of this permanent advocacy group, made up of 35 non-profit organizations, international organizations and private companies, is to review “the sanctions and penalties that apply to rapists, abusers, instigators of sexual crimes and their respective aggravating factors in cases where the victims are minors “.
The Penal Code of Panama establishes penalties of between 12 and 18 years for those who abuse, even when there is no violence or intimidation, of a person under 14 years of age.