Chile: Girls are sexually abused more often than boys

Santiago de Chile, November 26, 2012 (SEMlac Special). – A growing number of sexual abuse cases at schools and day-care centers have been reported by the media this year. There is now information on a network of sexual exploitation of minors that involves both show and business people.

Mention is not made, however, of an important fact: four every five sexually abused children are girls. This is a clear indication of gender violence since early childhood.

Pía Bastidas, a member of the Chilean Network to Fight Violence against Women, highlighted the importance of raising awareness and strengthening political action by feminist and women’s organizations to eradicate gender violence.

Media reports also fail to mention that most sexual assaults are committed by family members at home.


The legislation

The Criminal Code categorizes crimes against family, public morality, and sexual integrity.

Sexual abuse involves any body contact with a victim and is sentenced to up to five years in prison if the victim is an adult and up to 10 years if he/she is under 14 years of age.

Most of these acts (96 percent) are committed by men, and sentences are tougher on next of kin, according to a report of the National Service for Minors (SENAME).

The Attorney’s Office announced that there had been 51 sexual abuse cases in 2011, and that thirty-eight had involved boys and girls, aged seven to 13 in most cases. Out of 29,470 abused children under 18, girls accounted for over 76 percent.


The Network campaign

The Network has for six years implemented a nationwide campaign against male-chauvinism.

It is this year focusing on sexual abuse as a result of male-chauvinistic traditions that have not been made visible by the media.

The Network has developed a poster that reads: "81 percent of sexually abused children are girls and 96 percent of abusers are men.”

Bastidas concluded that women are harassed, threatened, beaten up, raped, poorly paid and empowered, dominated and made invisible under patriarchal culture.

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