Majorca’s Governing Island Council presented measures and funding to combat sexual abuse in children’s homes, six weeks after a scandal revealed the extent of abuse of young people in care.
Majorca will spend 1.5 million Euros (1.6 million dollars) to improve the island’s 30 children’s homes, which house 350 young people, the authority announced on Friday following a meeting in Palma de Majorca.
The alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl on Christmas Eve unleashed a powerful debate about the conditions faced by young people in Majorca.
According to social workers, sexual abuse is widespread in many homes and has long been an open secret.
In January, after growing criticism from social workers, the welfare authorities conceded they knew of no fewer than 16 young people in care, 15 girls and one boy, who had been led into prostitution.
Social workers said often young victims’ housemates acted as pimps to obtain money or drugs, although adults were also often involved.
The government’s measures include setting up a centre for under-age victims of abuse, specialist trained personnel and preventive workshops.
Majorca’s social welfare authority IMAS also plans to appoint two new psychologists and to step up campaigns encouraging families to foster children from homes.
The left-wing governing coalition refused to set up an investigation committee to address the issue, despite criticism from the conservative opposition party.
According to the Mallorca Zeitung and other media, Island Council President Catalina Caldera said the debate should focus on the perpetrators, rather than the children.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Felix Ajide