Muscat, Sept 18 – A total of 646 cases of child abuse — 387 male and 259 female — were handled by the child protection committees across the Sultanate in the first half of 2018. Muscat saw most cases of abuse 250 (161 male, 89 females), followed by North Batinah 125 cases (72 male, 53 female), South Batinah 53 cases (34 male, 19 female) and Dakhiliyah 46 cases. Forty-five cases were reported in Al Dhahirah Governorate, followed by North Al Sharqiyah 41, Al Buraimi 35 and 22 in South Al Sharqiyah and Musandam, and five cases in Dhofar.

A total of 34 cases (16 male, 18 female) were registered in the first half of the year. The abused children were accommodated at Dar al Wefaq, a temporary protection house. A total of 21 children (13 male, 8 female) were from Muscat, six from Al Dhahirah, 4 from Al Dakhiliyah, 2 from Al Batinah and one from Al Buraimi. The number of complaints of child abuse received on Ministry of Social Development’s ‘Child Protection Line’ (1100) in the first half of is 387.

Muscat Governorate saw most cases of abuse (159), which include 47 cases of physical abuse, 29 cases of mental abuse, 23 cases of sexual abuse and 60 cases of negligence. North Batinah, which came second, saw 90 cases — nine cases each of physical/ psychological abuse, 16 cases of sexual abuse and 56 cases of negligence. According to Imad al Saidi, the child protection representative in the Department of Family Protection, “Child abuse, as per the Child Act of 2014, “is physical, sexual or psychological maltreatment or neglect of a child, especially by a parent or other caregiver in such a way that creates conditions that would impede physical, psychological or social development for the child”.
Violence has been defined as “the intentional use of force and physical capacity by an individual or group against the child or the threat of using violence, which would cause actual or potential harm.
Al Saidi stressed on the role played by the child protection committees which are present at the headquarters of the directorates of social development in various governorates.
These committees represent members from government agencies such as the Ministries of Education, Health, Royal Oman Police, General Prosecution and SQUH.
These committees receive reports through members of the committees and the child helpline (1100).
Al Saidi said instilling a culture of dialogue among family members is extremely important. “The child should be aware of the limits of physical contact with others.”
“Parents should educate children to refuse any gifts from strangers and not allow them to touch the sensitive areas of their body. If this happens, it is necessary for the child to escape to a safe place such as home or a crowded place. The child shouldn’t hesitate to inform his family about strange acts towards him by others,” he said. He said that children, who are victims of family disintegration resulting from divorce, are subjected to harassment or abuse of all kinds. “Parents should give their children more attention,” he added.

Mai al Abria