Child abuse continues during lockdown

Not for profit organisation Samoa Victim Support Group continues to get calls from the public reporting child abuse within families during the state of emergency (S.O.E.) period.

A total of 41 calls were made to the S.V.S.G. toll-free line during the S.O.E. from March 21 to April 3, which increased by 51 the following fortnight from April 4 to 17.

Three alleged child abuse cases were brought to the attention of the S.V.S.G. during the first two weeks of this month, according to the S.V.S.G.

The group said the phone calls to their toll-free number confirms that the abuse of vulnerable members of the society continues unabated.

Giving statistics on the type of cases that have been reported through the toll-free number, the organisation said they include the following allegations: child abuse and abandonment (3 cases); homicide (2 cases); Police calls on referred cases (10 cases); donor pledges (5 cases); and general assistance and counselling (11 requests).

Releasing a media statement explaining the statistics, the not for profit organisation said the figures confirmed the impact that the SOE was having on families in the rural community, and is an added challenge to risks associated with the global pandemic.

“The Easter long weekend was the busiest time with a total of 44 callers requesting welfare assistance for the elderly, the disabilities and the children from very poor families,” states the S.V.S.G. statement.

“While S.V.S.G. was able to distribute some relief packages for these families courtesy of the funding support from UNICEF, we have come to learn through welfare assessment that most of these callers were simply trying to take advantage of the situation.

“This is very sad and disappointing as we struggled to ration the limited supplies that we have to assist those who genuinely need help.”

According to the not for profit organisation, this is a perfect time for Samoa to reset and think outside of its comfort zone and help a neighbour in need.

And in advice for parents who abandoned their children, the S.V.S.G declared in the statement that it is a practice that should not be encouraged.

“We as parents will not abandon our children to fend for themselves as the heat of unemployment takes its toll on our ability to provide for their daily needs. We, as a community, will not take advantage of the situation to benefit from the megre supplies available to be rationed for those living in poverty.”

The organisation’s response mechanism to address violence during the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic is made possible through the funding support of the UNDP Samoa Spotlight Initiative programme. 

S.V.S.G. President, Siliniu Lina Chang, thanked the UNDP for its ongoing support. 

“Thank you so much Louisa Apelu and the Spotlight Team for being accommodating of our needs,” she added.

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