For years now, November 19th has been a day to commemorate and raise awareness on the Prevention, Justice, and Reparation of Children’s sexual abuse. For the first time, this November 18th has been officially declared as the World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse, so sponsored by the United Nations and various other organizations, all which tirelessly pushed for the commemoration of this day.
Organizations such as ours, dedicated to working with victims of child abuse and their families, adult victims and survivors, along with other organizations and communities with whom we share and co-create paths towards progress in prevention and reparation, aiming to pass legislation and policies that seek to promote justice and ethical care in the face of sexual violence against children, wish to express the following:
1. Our enormous gratitude, always, for the lives, dignity, struggles, creations, and each and every dedicated effort made by survivors and all those who assist in this path.
2. We remember the victims who are no longer with us and those who have survived it all, yesterday and today’s children. Hoping, as always, that no more shall endure such experiences in the future.
3. Our gratitude towards all workers and professionals in the health, education, and justice fields, without whom processes surrounding unveiling, reports and charges, and reparation would not be possible. We are eternally grateful for your responsibility and commitment in each and every process, with every CSA victim.
4. Every year is one of gratitude, with 2022 being no exception: for the lessons learned and collaborations carried out with activists, foundations, study centers, think tanks, and universities. Both nationally and abroad, we have been strengthening partnerships and connecting with all those whom, like us, seek to turn pain stemming from CSA into a healing and transformative balm for society.
5. It was the perseverance, will, and commitment of Chilean Governments both past and present that allowed us to move forward: sometimes slower, with greater patience; other times, with intense energy and robust progress. It was through said efforts that we became united in a cross-sectional manner and, by 2019, were able to pass the bill that put an end to the statute of limitations in cases of CSA. Today we look forward to 2023 with hope and trust in that the current administration will keep its commitment to carry out a process –similar to those in countries such as Ireland or Australia- which considers the creation of a Truth, Justice, and Reparation Committee for children’s sexual abuse in institutional settings.
6. However, in a subject matter in which time constantly runs against victims and survivors, diverse scenarios all too often coincide with impunity and concealment of these crimes and, thus, necessarily delay the materialization of key pieces necessary so people may, besides having access to effective justice, successfully exercise what should constitute a basic human right: reparation.
7. Said reparation is not only for the countless people or communities of children who have customarily suffered abuse in institutional surroundings but, moreover, for entire societies where such unspeakable crimes take place. The lives of victims, of all people, are inextricably intertwined with the life of whichever country we inhabit. The possibility to care for, to protect, and prevent such harm to future generations of children is entirely inalienable from all other progress we may pursue in matters of reparation and construction of our own coexistence, as a country, based on ethical care.
8. Besides the historic achievement that was the law that put an end to the statute of limitations, Chile has made headway in various other legislations: Integral guarantees for children Rights Act; the law that sanctions children’s physical abuse. Recorded video interviews in CSA cases, to avoid secondary victimization –although in need of further improvements, this law is still a great step-; age limits and prohibition of child marriage; modifications introduced to the sex offender registry as well as the prison benefits system, where access to certain benefits is now denied to children’s abusers. Most recently: the act which further classifies and penalizes commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents. This was another effort brought forth by one administration and made law by its successor. The foregoing are only some examples of what we are able to build when we work towards a clear horizon, prioritizing collaboration and upholding our attention to protecting and safeguarding our “human cubs”.
Care, inseparable from justice, comprises an ethics of responsibility and, we hope –and are emphatic on this- that our parliament continues to think and act from that very place, drafting bills that can positively affect the lives of new generations of children and, more specifically, those of CSA victims. In this sense, we remain alert regarding proposals such as the repeal of incest from our penal code –proposal included in PL11714-07, or the shared care bill –which could mandate that children victims of abuse and sexual abuse (including incestuous CSA) reconnect or even live with offender parents. We respectfully ask our current House and Senate, as well as our fellow citizens, that we may bolster evidence-based laws, trauma informed, and unambiguous in their purpose to protect, to not victimize and to strengthen and nurture the lives and well-being of each and every child in Chile.
With all of today and yesterday’s children in our minds and, above all, with our commitment and care willing for all boys and girls,
Red de Sobrevivientes Chile
No más abuso sexual infantil Chile
Derecho al Tiempo
English translation: Diamela Pumarino J.