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Work to tackle child abuse and sexual assault praised

Nicky Gurret, chair of the OBA Women's Caucus (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The hard work of local organisations fighting against child abuse and sexual assault was today hailed by the Women of the One Bermuda Alliance.

Nicky Gurret, chair of the OBA Women's Caucus, praised the dedication of frontline organisations including SCARS, the Centre Against Abuse and the Women’s Resource Centre as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month – both celebrated this month.

Ms Gurret said: “In many countries, statistical and anecdotal evidence indicates that incidents of abuse have risen during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In some countries, including the United States, they have fallen, however, social workers with an intimate and expert knowledge in the area are acutely aware that fewer complaints are masking a darker reality.”

She said the extended closures of schools and daycares have made it harder for teachers to identify and report abuses and created additional challenges for caring organisations.

Ms Gurret added: “Statistics reported show that seven children – four females and three males – and 18 adults were examined at the hospital for sexual assault in 2018

“These statistics provide some insight into sexual assault in the UK, USA and Bermuda and they reveal that sexual offences are historically and chronically underreported and highlight the indispensable work of three essential charities, SCARS, the CAA and the WRC in identifying, supporting and giving a voice to victims and survivors of sexual assault and abuse.”

She said that SCARS has worked hard to create advocates for the victims of child sexual abuse and tackle social problems at their source.

Meanwhile the CAA worked to support both male and female adult survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault with court advocacy, counselling, resettlement services, a 24-hour crisis hotline and education for the community.

The WRC offers education and training programmes and provides support including information, counselling and courses for women who have faced or are facing challenging traumas.

Ms Gurret said that according to UK statistics, 20 per cent of women and four per cent of men had experienced some sort of sexual assault, but convictions rates are far lower than other crimes with just 5.7 per cent of reported rape cases leading to a conviction.

She said: “These statistics aren’t presenting a historical quirk.

“A growing body of evidence suggests that incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault are rising as families and individuals struggle with restrictions on movement and mounting economic hardship.”

Ms Gurret added that WOBA would donate clothing to Bermuda’s Sexual Assault Response Team to offer victims “comfortable clothing” after a hospital sexual examination.

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Published April 29, 2021 at 2:05 pm (Updated April 29, 2021 at 2:05 pm)

Work to tackle child abuse and sexual assault praised

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