Muscat, Jan 9 – “Don’t be a silent witness of child abuse, report it,” said Dr Yahiya al Hinai, Director-General of Family Development at the Ministry of Social Development and Head of Child Protection Committee.
Speaking about the sexual harassment of a school student, which went viral on social media recently, Al Hinai said the ministry did not receive any report about the incident, although an eyewitness revealed it to the media channels.
“Anyone can help combat abuse against children in the country through free hotline (1100),” he said.
According to a report on social media, a school student was abused by senior students after the school hours.
“The boy was trapped between them and they refused to let him go. It took a while before they finally released him. God knows what was happening,” said the report.
The Child Law, promulgated by Royal Decree No 22/2014, defines violence as “the intentional use of physical threat or force by an individual or a group of people against a child, which would cause actual or potential harm to him or her”.
Abuse is a “direct intent of torturing a child, harming him physically or psychologically, or the parental neglect of the child in a way that creates conditions that would impede him or her physically, psychologically or socially”.
Exploitation is defined as “making use of the child or his/ her organs for purposes or in illicit ways such as prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery and slavery-like practices as well as human trafficking”.
The ministry has constituted committees for child protection across governorates and launched two years ago a toll-free helpline for reporting such incidents. Until the end of 2016, the number of cases handled by these committees stood at 299.
Zainab al Nassri