São Tomé, 24 May, 2022 / 8:55 pm (ACI Africa).
The number of reported cases of sexual violation of minors in São Tomé and Príncipe in which family members are perpetrators are on the rise, a Catholic Nun in the African Island nation has said.
In an interview with ACI Africa on the sidelines of a three-day workshop for women Religious on safeguarding of minors and vulnerable adults, Sr. Romilsia Perreira described the rise in the reported cases of child abuse and incest as “quite alarming”, adding that the abuses are “often concealed by the family”.
“Lately we have seen an increase of sexual abuse of minors, especially in families, in other words incest. Such cases are often concealed by the family; the mother or the father do not report; it is kept a secret,” Sr. Perreira said during a May 18 interview.
The member of the Canossian Daughters of Charity, Servants of the Poor (Canossian Sisters) said that the cover-up of the abuses is based on the fact the perpetrators are in most cases the breadwinners of the affected family members and that reporting them would affect the livelihoods of the abused minors.
She explained, “In the case where a father or stepfather is the perpetrator, mothers often keep silent because of dependency; they worry about who will put food on the table if the breadwinner is arrested. As a result, they end up submitting themselves to various forms of abuse.”