As reported by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a charity for sexually abused children in Bolivia has received hundreds of telephone calls from girls trapped in their homes with their abusers ever since the coronavirus lockdown began in the country.
Brisa De Angulo, the head of the charity, said that they received a call from a 10-year-old pregnant girl that had been raped by two cousins in her home, and she had gone into labor. She tried to get to a hospital, but she was stopped by soldiers in the streets that enforce the lockdown. De Angulo added that the girl was so scared that she didn’t tell them that she was in labor, so she walked back home. The organization has since set up an emergency helpline for victims in quarantine.
The lockdown in Bolivia has raised issues of incest and child sexual abuse, as the region has already been infamous of high rates of sexual violence and teenage pregnancies.
More than one girl a day was raped during the first 17 days of quarantine in Peru, as reported by the Peruvian government, and the United Nations have described gender-based violence under COVID-19 lockdown as a growing “shadow pandemic”.
More than 130 human rights groups signed a letter in which they urged Latin American governments to step up the measures to protect girls in their homes and address sexual violence. Bolivia has been on a strict lockdown for the last 4 weeks, and De Angulo said that she fears for girls that have been in lockdown with aggressors, who often happen to be family members.
Bolivian police have reported more than 4 dozen cases of violence against children, and the government also added abuse helplines.
De Angulo said that the most dangerous place for a child for sexual violence is their home, and “we’ve always known that”.
With the lockdown in place, that risk has increased exponentially, as children are now 24/7 with their aggressors, so she’s very worried.
De Angulo’s charity named Breeze of Hope provides free legal and psychological help to thousands of child victims in Bolivia. The charity managed to help the 10-year-old pregnant girl and her mother to take them to a hospital and give birth.