Pinching, insults are forms of child abuse -- lawyer

We often see parents and other adults pinch or hurl insults at children, thinking that they have the right to do so, but a lawyer said that these, too are forms of child abuse.
“Something as simple as pinching a child is a form of child abuse, based on Republic Act 7610. The law is very broad as even the psychological abuse is covered. That’s also child abuse when you intentionally demean a child.  Examples are when you call a child stupid or useless. Everyone has a right to call the parent and guardian’s attention if they are abusing their children,” said Atty. Carol Salvatierra, president of the Women Law Advocates of the Philippines, Inc.–Iloilo Chapter, said.


RA 7610 is otherwise known as Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.
She said some examples of child abuse are; (1) Failure to provide the basic needs of a child; (2) Failure to immediately give medical treatment to an injured child resulting in serious impairment of his growth and development or in his permanent incapacity or death;  (3) When a child or his/her service is used to pay a debt; (4) Child labor for more than four hours and no permit from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). If it’s a family business, the whole positive growth of the child has to be considered; (5) If a child below 15 years old is allowed to appear in a commercial promoting liquor, obscene publication and indecent shows; and (6) recruiting children to work for prostitution and pornography which is also a violation of Republic Act 9208 or Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act; (7) Coercing children to beg or push drugs; (8) When a child belonging to an indigenous group is discriminated; among others.
She took special mention of the incident in La Paz last October where a father slammed his child on the pavement. The child died a day after that.
“There are so many cases like that in the barrios,” Atty. Salvatierra said.
She also cited the case of singer Freddie Aguilar and his 16-year-old girlfriend.
“Aguilar admitted that he was not aware that his girlfriend is 16 years old but he continued the relationship until now. Under the Revised Penal Code, only the offended party can file a case. But under RA 7610, anybody can file a complaint. They can be the offended party, parents, Department of Social Welfare and Development, barangay chairman, any three concerned responsible citizens in the area who saw them. The law protects the child. If you are under 18 years old, the law considers you a child,” she explained.
She added that the law also covers those who are above 18 years old but incapable of protecting themselves, like the insane and mentally deranged.
Apart from RA 7610 and RA 9208, children’s rights are also covered in Republic Act 9262 or Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004.
Some violations are causing or threatening harm to the woman or her child, placing women and children in harm’s way, restricting a woman or child’s movements, and sexual abuse, among others.

HEROES FOR CHILDREN AND WOMEN
Atty. Salvatierra said that as lawyers, members of the WLAP believe they can use their expertise for women empowerment and protection of children.
“We help in filing cases. Women come to us for help in filing cases.  As lawyers, we can help,” she said.
“We also hold lectures to create awareness. We tie up with organizations and the City and Province of Iloilo. We also had a signed solidarity with youth leaders to help protect children’s rights,” she said.
“We also use our expertise in our partnership with the Bantay Dagat, persons with disabilities (PWDs) and more,” she added.

SHELTER FOR ABUSED CHILDREN
Every February, WLAP-Iloilo goes to the Home for Girls in Cabatuan to give gifts and orientation.
“They cater to 15 to 40 abused girls at a time,” she said.
“There are many rape cases in far-flung barangays. There is even a case of four siblings whose perpetrator is their father. They are now in the shelter. The eldest child even gave birth and the baby also lives in the shelter,” she said.
“In the city, we don’t have a shelter for these kids. If we could find sponsors to put up a shelter for them, it would be good,” she said.
WLAP is also in partnership with Chameleon Association based in Passi City.
“Chameleon has many girls under their care because they cover Western Visayas. Last October, in celebration of Children’s Month, WLAP and Chameleon held a writeshop and lecture on child’s rights at West Visayas State University.
Last year, WLAP held a fashion show to raise funds for Chameleon Association’s operations.
This year, on December 2, they will hold another fashion show for the same cause.
Entitled “Icons 2”, it will be held at the lobby of the Iloilo Provincial Capitol. The dinner-fashion show will feature designer Sidney Eculla’s collection made of abaca and pina.
Salvatierra is urging Ilonggos to support this event as it is one way to empower Chameleon to continue promoting children’s welfare.

CHAMELEON
“Chameleon is actively undertaking an overwhelming responsibility of rehabilitating sexually abused girls in the Philippines for 16 years now. In order to keep its vision afire, Chameleon seeks to establish strategic partnerships with corporations, institutions, like-minded organizations and individuals that find value in restoring the future of maltreated girls and financially deprived Filipino children as a whole,” said Chee Mallonga, resource mobilization and development officer of Chameleon Association.
She said the NGO was established in 1997 at Barangay Sabologon, Passi City by French women Laurence Ligier and Ellien Regondon.
They are also rehabilitating school libraries and soliciting books for these libraries.
“We are currently rehabilitating the libraries of Brgy. Bulabog Elementary School, Bingawan, Iloilo; Maasin Elementary School, Passi City, Iloilo; and Dominador Abang Memorial National High School, San Enrique, Iloilo,” Mallonga said.
She added that they will have the First Chameleon Fun Run on Nov. 23, 4:30 a.m. at SM City Iloilo.
They are also crafting more initiatives to develop local educational sponsorships for poor but deserving students in Passi City, Bingawan and San Enrique.
Visit their website at: http://www.cameleon-association.org/en/.*

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