San Pedro Sula. Never before have the children of Honduras been so vulnerable. They suffer at home where they are subjected to sexual harassment, physical and mental abuse. They suffer on the streets, where they are forced to work from a young age, beg and endure bad weather with parents who cannot guarantee them the most basic things. They suffer when they are rescued because the state does not guarantee them security and full respect for their rights.
in Honduras there are 9,597,739 people, of which 30% are children aged 0 to 14 (2.9 million), the other large population group consists of people aged 15 to 64, representing 64% (6.1 million) and those 65 and over are 6% (more than half a million), with a life expectancy at birth of 77 and an illiteracy rate of 12% and an average of 7.6 years of schooling.
Overall, 40% equates to 3,889,507 children under 18, of which 1,920,419 are girls.
In three days, the country commemorates Children’s Daybut the majority of this Honduran population has nothing to celebrate.
Despite the fact that children are the second largest population in the country, they are the most unprotected and affected by various violations.
Plan Honduras monitors, promotes and protects the rights of children in more than 600 communities in 12 departments of the country.
Violent death is the most severe form of violence and violation of rights. The data analyzed by PRESS Awards reveal that the current figures are chilling.
According to the monitoring carried out by Coordinator of private institutions for children, adolescents, young people and their rights (Coiproden) in the media, with news of violent acts, indicate that in Honduras an average of 50 girls, boys, adolescents and young adults die each month.
In the first quarter of 2022, 158 minors were killed in violent acts; while in the second quarter there were 140 victims, a total of 298 small victims of violence.
And when they are not killed, they are abused in many other ways. According to World Health Organization (WHO), c Honduras4% of women were victims of sexual violence from the age of 12, i.e. like girls; and 2% were abused before reaching that age. That is why more than 30,000 pregnant teenagers are registered in the country every year.
Add WHO that Honduras In addition, there are more cases of maternal death: it is twice as high in children under the age of 15 than in adult women. In 2017, 101 adolescent births were registered in the country for every thousand pregnancies of all ages, and in 2021 a total of 998 cases of pregnancy among girls between 10 and 14 years old. According to the Ministry of Health, every hour three girls give birth to children who were conceived as a result of sexual violence.
There are no government policies
Janet Floreschild protection and inclusion specialist, explained that abuse and violence against children is a critical problem that has many factors that stem from the breakdown of the family and the normalization of domestic violence.
It starts from the urgent need to create a protective environment and a comprehensive response based on a process of capacity building with all actors, the community, the family, which includes children, teachers, parents and leaders. It reveals the need for structural work on the child’s development environment.
In addition, girls are exposed to various phenomena of violence in relation to boys, for example sexual harassment, street harassment, unwanted pregnancy and lack of prioritization of education.
“Not only the child is involved, but also his whole environment: the home, the family, the school, the community, the places of recreation and all those actors involved in generating a positive upbringing. This promotes positive values such as trust, listening to generate a change in this mental pattern that we must avoid violenceBut the work is not easy.
“To the extent that we transform that, we will change those behaviors. This is what we want to achieve because the problem of abuse leads to other types of abuse, such as sexual abuse. This is a sensitive issue that no one denounces because we have not created signals in the population, we have not generated an information process and the population knows that this is a crime,” he warned.
Similarly, he criticized that “human trafficking is another serious problem and no one denounces it, it is known to be a crime until it is identified through the technical operators of the legal system.
Plan Honduras Programs and Impact Manager
“It is a lie that only 24 institutions will be able to change the reality of childhood; State institutions have a defining role”.
“And nobody stigmatizes it because it’s usually seen in communities as something normal, like a mother giving her daughter in exchange for money or an animal to alleviate a little bit of her poverty.” This should be done by working directly with all participants, integrating learning processes through recreational activities, social mobilization and involving all participants who are responsible,” he suggested.
Although in Honduras there are at least 24 civil organizations that work on the issue of affirming children’s rights, the state, as the main guarantor of children’s rights, is the one that does the least, even invests the least.
“There is really no updated report to date, but the figures for public investment made on children’s issues show that it is less than $1 (L24) per day. This is what you invest Condition. Less than $1,” he calculated.
The law clearly states that the first protective instance for child care is the family, but if that family does not have the means, it is up to the state, and for this, programs must be created and budgets available for them to work.
The approved expenditure budget Directorate for children, adolescents and the family, for fiscal year 2020, was L143 million and represented a decrease of L1. 6 million compared to the previous fiscal period.
An end to impunity
second, Laura Kingmanager Plan Honduras programs and impactexpresses regret that in the country 98% of cases of abuse or violence against children are in general impunity.
“Initially it is the responsibility of Condition to be able to guarantee the life of children and also that this life is a dignified life and in the fulfillment of all their rights, but there are many factors that affect children not to enjoy all these rights and it means that we see more cases of murder , rape or trafficking and this is impunity,” he complained.
Child protection specialist
“There is a lack of follow-up from these institutions that institutionalize child care with the permission of the state. It is unthinkable that their rights are also being violated there.”
This situation reproduces abuse and reproduces child abuse. “I say it is reproduced when we see that there is no punishment against the aggressor. This feeling that they have not punished the one who raped or assaulted makes others want to do it because as they see nothing will happen.
Ray warned that it creates a pattern of reoffending, in the sense of encouraging them to commit more.
However, “when someone is brought before the courts ex officio, a precedent is set. The main factor in achieving this is exposing the aggressors and distorting the violencebecause it is believed that cruel severity is necessary, but it is not so,” he explained.
“I am outraged every time I see in the media more children who have been killed or who have been raped – he burst out – I think this is not a job that only Plan International can do. It is a task that calls us to respond to all of Honduran society.”
“It should motivate us to say what would happen if it was my child.