Child-hazardous nation

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There is no future for a country that neglects children. Children are supposed to be raised with smiles on their faces and showered with love and care by their moms, dads, brothers and sisters. And yet, we continue to hear more and more heart aching reports of children being killed in traffic accidents, being abused by parents and adults, sexually molested by relatives and strangers, and going missing. Even the smog clouding Ulaanbaatar during cold seasons is permanently harming children’s health.Across the world, millions of children are dying due to armed conflicts and wars. We would think that children would be safe in a peaceful country like Mongolia where there’s no violent conflicts or wards, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. 

By the end of last year, the police reported 1,115 crimes against children in Mongolia and stressed at the time that this was a 34 percent rise compared to the previous year. But just three months later, over half of this amount of crime was reported. More specifically, 554 children became victims of crimes in the first quarter of this year, marking a 5.9 percent rise compared to the first quarter of last year, according to the National Statistics Office. Domestic violence crimes also hiked by 50 percent to 159 cases by March 2019.

We have to remember that this is the number of child crimes detected by the police. There could be hundreds more cases like these or even worse forms of crimes that go unreported or detected. These children were hopefully rescued from harmful situations thanks to somebody who reported to the police or policing against this type of crime, but there probably are numerous children who can’t ask for help, don’t who they should ask for help, or think their attempts to get help would be futile.

Chief Prosecutor of Bayankhongor Province J.Urantsetseg said, “Child abuse is usually committed by family members, relatives and step-parents – always in a secretive manner. This type of crime is very hard to detect. If it is detected in some form, it is inspected by legal and law enforcement bodies.”

In the capital alone, 12 types of services are offered for child protection and even so, the number of child victims is growing each day. This is an indication of poor service delivery, ineffectiveness, and poor reach. Mongolia launched its child helpline 108 last year in order to strengthen child protection and improve response to child-related crimes. Despite this effort, the number of child victims is still increasing, which clearly prompts the need to do more to protect children from potential harm.

“When we were children, everything used to be for children, but starting from the 1990s, the child policy was lost. It isn’t a secret that people started choosing money over their children as unemployment and alcoholism increased during the market transition. Nowadays, we have no safer option than to leave our children at home in order to protect them. Children are what’s most important. It’s time to discuss challenges faced by children at state-level and policy-level,” stressed N.Oyuntsetseg, member of Victims Association.

Without a doubt, adults’ carelessness, neglect and lack of care for children, who could and would become the future of Mongolia, is a serious issue. However, neither the state nor parents are paying enough attention to providing a safe environment for children to grow up healthily without harm, neglect, or scars.

Ts.Otgonbayar, a father of four girls and member of Bosoo Khukh Mongol NGO, said, “We must create a wonderful future where our children can live in peace. Hideous crimes like child violence should be strictly combated and eradicated.”

“Many parents are unable to sleep because they don’t know where to hide their girls. In the last three to four years, the number of child victims of sexual abuse and violence has increased,” says E.Tsetsegsaikhan, executive director of Okhidyn Tuukh (History of Girls) NGO.

“Out of children affected by abuse, 64.9 percent tell their friends, 34.8 percent to their parents, and three to eight percent to teachers or social workers, according to a study conducted by the Human Rights Commission and Good Neighbors NGO. This indicates there’s need to intensify crime prevention measures dedicated to children.”

Step-father tortures 2 boys for three days straight

“I’m six years old. My dad slapped me two or three times. He stabbed a pen into my head three times. Stabbed a pen again seven times into my chest. He cut Enkhuulei (his four-year-old brother)’s cheek and head with a ruler and with all of his force, he skinned his nose. Blood started to drip from Enkhuulei’s nose. He also beat (us) with a belt. He beat Enkhuulei in the arm with a wooden ladle until it broke. I cried and begged him to stop beating my brother but he came to me and slapped me many times. We’re always scared of dad. He didn’t beat us like this when he married our mum. But I thought dad would stop beating us as time went past. Before, when he gave us a bath, he used to push our heads into the water, scratch our backs, and pinch our noses really hard. When mum was away for three days, he showed us a scary film. Since then, I have nightmares. Because we’re scared of him, we don’t say anything back. He tells us not to tell our mum or grandma, or else he would beat us. That’s why we couldn’t say anything…”

This is what six-year-old O.Enkhsuld told the press while on the verge of crying after enduring 72 hours with his aggressive and cruel step-father. This incident took place from March 10 to 13 in Bayangol District and it will probably haunt this poor boy and his younger brother for the rest of their life. Because of the step-father’s cruelty, both boys have countless scars on their body and the four-year-old O.Enkhuulei has already undergone nine surgeries because all of his internal organs were severely injured. Doctors confirmed that these injuries to internal organs were caused from violence.

Don’t stand by and watch

Like so, there are many unimaginable and unspeakable crimes against children occurring every day which go unreported. Children need to be protected and cared for. They should be supported by their family and relatives so that they can lead the future to a better path.

The authorities are always signing contracts and agreements for child protection but no concrete results are achieved. Both the state and public have to be more active in these operations if we want to create a child-friendly society where our children and their children can live without fear. Another thing to add is that the state needs to spend more money on projects dedicated to the protection of children and the prevention of crimes involving minors. They need to also manage the finances well in order to achieve the best results. No matter how much money you flaunt, all of it would go to waste if performance is not reported and reviewed.

Remember, a country that doesn’t protect the young has no future ahead.

Dulguun Bayarsaikhan