A total of 5,635 minors were victims of sexual abuse or violence in Guatemala in 2017, according to a annual report issued Wednesday by the country's Human Rights Ombudsman.
Based on the expert report conducted by the National Institute of Forensic Sciences, last year 540 children suffered abuse, including 285 girls and 255 boys, while the number of abused teens was 519, of those 300 were women and 219 were men.
The "alarming" data shows "that the trend continues" against minors taking into account "their particular physical defenselessness", because in 2016 the number of abused children, of ages of 0 to 12-years-old, was 528, while that of adolescents was 594.
Some of the "risk" factors that the Ombudsman's Office take into account when analyzing these figures, "without criminalizing poverty", are that the parents were also victims during their childhood, they consume drugs or abuse alcohol, live in areas with "high unemployment rates" or cultural norms that "celebrate violence."
"The consequences of abuse can last a lifetime," the report said and warned that it marks the beginning of "a vicious circle" in which the victim can become an aggressor in his adult life, so that the consequences of child abuse can be "intergenerational".
Regarding sexual abuse, which the report described as "one of the worst forms of violence against children and adolescents," the Attorney's Office estimates that 1,718 children were victims of it, 1,364 in females and 354 in males, while the figure rises to 2,858 in the case of adolescents, almost all of them are women, or 2,748 teens.
The number of pregnancies in girls and adolescents is also "dramatic", because as of Oct. 7 there were a total of 40,683 pregnancies in girls between 10 and 17 years.
Therefore the country's public defender’s report called on the state to ensure the rights of minors, in addition to promoting reforms to end practices of violence and reinforce research into it.
According to the report, one of the cases that highlighted the defenselessness of this group was the fire that on March 8, the International Women's Day, burned alive 41 children in the Safe Home Virgen de la Asunción, a center under the Ministry of Social Welfare of the Presidency.