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Closing the Gap for the abused and exploited children

July 13, 2016 · 

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Closing the Gap for the abused and exploited children
FRANCIS BERMIDO JR.
Preda News.

During the Millenium Development Goal (MDG) period from 2000 to 2015, we saw a remarkable increase in the number of school age children who were enrolled in primary school- up to 91 percent. The challenge now for the world is to bring the last nine percent of the students- representing about 57 million school age children- into school.

Rachel, who belongs to an extremely poor family living in the slums of Metro Manila, is one of these “last milers.” At the age of 14, she’s never been in a formal school and thus cannot read and write even her name. Her own parents always called her dumb and she grew up believing so. To make matters worse, she was repeatedly sexually abused by an uncle when she turned nine and ran away from home. Once, when she returned home, a relative forcibly shaved her hair to shame her and prevent her from going out. She resorted to wearing a wig.

Already suffering from domestic sexual abuse, Rachel was an easy prey for human traffickers. When an acquaintance offered her work as a domestic helper in another city, she readily agreed and ended up working as an entertainer. She escaped from the bar and asked for help from the police. She was brought to a local government-run center who then asked Preda to intervene on her behalf.

When admitted at the Preda Center, she did not like to talk with anyone and refused to take off her wig. She also refused to undergo medico-legal examination.

All that changed after several weeks of counseling and providing support and affirmation and all that she needs as a growing adolescent. She’s now told her story to the Preda social workers and submitted herself to medico-legal exam making it possible for Preda to pursue justice on her behalf. The criminal case against her uncle is now elevated to the court.

Rachel was also enrolled in the Special Education (SPED) Class in Subic and is now able to read and write and do basic arithmetic. More importantly, she’s acquired self-confidence and life skills that will help her through her life.

It is imperative that we help children like Rachel if we are to close the gap left by the MDG and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

francisbermido@preda.org

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