Human Rights Advocate, Felicia Dujon, is questioning the lack of response from the Department of Social Services and police after a 5-month-old baby girl was burnt with hot water during a squabble with her parents.
The incident, which occurred on January 1, resulted in the infant losing her nipple and suffering burns to her chest, face and other parts of her body.
Her father, Myron Charles also sustained burns to his body. It is alleged that a family member of the child’s mother, Hidee Joseph, hurled hot water in the direction of Charles during an argument between Joseph and Charles.
According to Dujon, many children have been witnesses and victims of domestic violence in Saint Lucia, a matter which is of grave concern, “And we have yet to hear from the Department of Social Services or police authorities on this matter; even when a minor is involved.”
A police investigation is underway.
According to her, any child who is a victim or witness to a violent crime of domestic violence should be provided with the necessary intervention required to keep him or her safe.
“By now the authorities should have recognized that being a witness of domestic violence is also an act of abuse. In this particular matter, the minor also experience physical and emotional harm.”
The advocate is concerned over the lasting effects such an experience will have on the minor or the father who was injured in this matter.
“These are some of the very difficult questions that we as a society should be aware of given the tremendous amount of research that has been done in the area.
Researchers have identified that witnesses in domestic violence have been a growing concern for many years.
Child abuse and domestic violence are not new social problems. Both are considered an accepted part of our culture.
However, while domestic violence is now politically recognized as one of the most entrenched and pervasive forms of violence in our society today, child abuse issues have yet to receive the same degree of attention.
This is despite the fact that every year in Saint Lucia, a high percentage of children, as well as women, suffer physically, psychologically, and sexually as a result of acts of violence.
This, together with the fact that the family has traditionally been regarded as a source of love and support, has led to an element of denial at both a community level and an individual level.
One negative aspect of family life is the effect of domestic violence on children, either as witnesses to, or victims of, the abuse.
Concern has also been expressed by health and welfare professionals, who have felt the frustration of not being able to intervene legally to protect child witnesses from extreme incidents of domestic violence unless there was also evidence of child abuse.
In addition, with the reopening of the second term, we are advising parents and guardians to be extra vigilant of children during this COVID pandemic.
Parents and guardians should pay close attention to any changes in the behavior of their children as they may experience anxieties dealing with the changes in their environment due to the effects of COVID,” Dujon said.
Dujon adds that our children are living with conditions that are still strange and foreign to them and they must be encouraged to practice safety for their own protection and safekeeping.
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