One child abused every two days

ACCORDING TO the latest report from the Inspecção-Geral de Saúde (IGS), the health general inspectorate, confirmed by paediatrician José Gonçalves Oliveira, director of paediatrics at the S. João de Deus Hospital in Vila Nova de Famalicão, annually there are around 200 child victims of sexual abuse. This means that every two days in Portugal a child is abused.

The report from the IGS states that, between 2002 and 2004, throughout Portugal, 7,033 children were maltreated, 592 were victims of sexual abuse and 10 per cent suffered from severe abuse. It also stated that another 732 cases of abuse have been detected since then. Cases of violence against babies and infants have also increased in the last few years.

Maria José Vieira, director at the Hospital de Famalicão, the second largest in Portugal, said that sexual abuse of children sadly exists and, even with over “15 years of effective communication” between doctors, nurses, social services, police authorities and courts, the problem is increasing.

Ana Augusta, from the social services, assists the team of paediatricians at the hospital. She liaises with hospitals, families and social institutions, although voices doubts regarding the effectiveness of the system: “Many cases of child abuse drop through the net and go unseen”.

The results from the IGS report also revealed that many hospitals and health centres in Portugal do not have teams specialised to attend to these cases.