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Uruguay must stop “normalizing” sexual abuse of minors, says UN rapporteur

Uruguay The culture that “normalizes” the sexual abuse of minors must change, said on Friday the Special Rapporteur of the UN on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, Mama Fatima Singhateh, at the conclusion of an 11-day visit to the country.

Singhateh, invited by the government of Luis Lacalle Pou to examine the protection of children and adolescents against sexual exploitation, child marriage, child trafficking and the sale of children through illegal adoptions, highlighted the “need for education” to create “awareness” about these problems .

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“There is a need to change the culture in Uruguay that normalizes the exploitation and sexual abuse of minors”he said at a press conference in Montevideo this Gambian lawyer.

Singhateh stressed that judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys “They need to re-educate themselves, deconstruct this concept that a 17-year-old girl dating a 40-year-old guy is normal. She is not normal, she is sexual exploitation! And we have to understand that.”he stressed.

Singhateh will deliver his final report on Uruguay to the UN Human Rights Councilbased in Geneva, in March 2024.

But on Friday he advanced his preliminary observations, after meeting with representatives of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, local and municipal authorities, agencies of the UNmembers of civil society and the private sector, educators, social workers, and victims.

Since May 16, in addition to Montevideotraveled to the cities of Paysandú, about 400 km northwest of the capital, and Chuy, about 330 km to the east, bordering on Brazil.

Uruguay It continues to be a country of origin, transit, and destination for victims of forced labor and trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation of women and children.”said Singhateh.

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The expert pointed out the border areas between the neighboring countries of Argentina and Brazil as “entry points for women and children temporarily offering sexual services”.

And he highlighted the “internal trafficking phenomenon”, “little investigated” and “much less brought before the courts.” In Uruguay “There are clandestine parties” where young women are taken “and sexually exploited,” he said.

Consulted about the case of the pro-government senator and president of the Mercosur Parliament, Gustavo Penadés, accused by eight alleged victims of sexual abuse when they were minors, singhateh declined to comment because it was an “ongoing” investigation.

“But what I will say is that, during my conversations with the interlocutors, there has been a perception on the part of the public that there is a lot of impunity in the cases, not only in this case, but in general”he claimed.

singhateh pointed out that many times people “hesitate” to denounce “because they feel that nothing will come of it, especially if the person (reported) is in a position of power”.

“If a victim is brave enough to come forward, take it seriously. If such a matter has reached the courts, deal with it promptly.”he emphasized.

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Source: Elcomercio

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