MONTEVIDEO – The CONAPEES committee to eradicate sexual exploitation of minors in Uruguay so far this year has handled 285 such cases, officials with the organization announced on Wednesday.
CONAPEES president Luis Purtscher emphasized that Uruguay has gone from denying the situation and verifying just 20 cases of sexual exploitation of children and teenagers between 2007 and 2009 to understanding that this is a nationwide problem.
The announcement came as part of the National Day of Struggle Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of children and teens in the South American nation, with CONAPEES, together with Uruguay’s Institute for the Child and Teenager (Inau), presenting the 2nd National Plan 2016-2021 to raise awareness, increase training, evaluate and protect the public against sexual exploitation.
Purtscher told the press that this 5-year program includes different objectives such as undertaking campaigns and promoting reforms in national laws and/or rules and regulations.
“This is being done to be able to provide a response to a problem that until very recently was denied in Uruguay, and today it is evident that, unfortunately, it’s a reality over the length and breadth of the country,” he said.
The plan is intended to bring about a nationwide public policy that guarantees people’s rights.
“In the court system, there have been advances and this has been expressed in different reports that the judicial branch has requested regarding the number of people brought to trial on this matter,” Purtscher added.
Regarding the profile of the exploited children, he said that, generally, they are low-income minors age 13 or older, adding that “They usually come from other earlier forms of abuse.”
Also attending the presentation of the plan was Inau president Marisa Lindner, who called it “a step forward that will be approved by the executive branch via a decree.”