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Guatemala takes steps to combat child sexual abuse

30, Jan 2018 | CJP Team

The Thomson Reuters Foundation reported that, according to legislators and activists, a new national DNA database and sex offender registry should raise convictions of child sexual abuse in Guatemala. According to the country’s human rights ombudsman, ten cases of child sexual abuse are reported daily in Guatemala, and that perpetrators are frequently family members or friends. The law passed in December 2017 mandates that those working with children must supply a certificate proving they have no previous convictions for sex crimes. All employers must also run background checks using a new sex offender registry, which will compile data on those found guilty of sex crimes and help monitor them for five years after they are freed from jail. The DNA database will also store genetic data on those detained on sex crime charges to help with identification and conviction. In the weeks following the law’s enforcement, more than 223,000 certificates have been issued, according to the International Justice Mission (IJM), a human rights organisation that pushed for the law’s passage. IJM also said that the law has revealed more than 30 teachers and staff who had previously been convicted of child sexual abuse who were working at schools around the country. The UN Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) found in 2009 that 90% of “crimes against children go unpunished,” the Thomson Reuters Foundation said. Sexual abuse results in high rates of teenage pregnancy, with activists saying several thousand girls get pregnant annually because of rape, including some as young as ten.

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