Fiji Time: 1:32 PM on Sunday 23 November

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Real love for children

Ruby Taylor-Newton
Sunday, November 23, 2014

Having a child or children is not a matter to be taken lightly.

And a day dedicated to the national prevention of child abuse and neglect yesterday was the ideal opportunity to emphasise the importance of protecting and loving children.

Neglect and abuse of children is on the rise in many parts of the world today, and Fiji is no exception.

The testimony of 43-year-old Shalini Lata on her experiences as an orphan and then receiving the best care ever at the Dilkusha Girls Home where she spent 23 years of her life, was an insight into the heart and mind of one who has come through such a life.

She considers herself "one of the lucky ones" to have received love and care, and from which a better life was created for her.

Mrs Lata's story is a sad reality of what happens to a child when a single parent gives him or her up to the care of others because they cannot provide the love and nurturing themselves.

Unfortunate as it is, some children who survive to tell the tale of their bitter past are products of sheer neglect and abuse by the very people who are supposed to protect and provide for them.

Being neglected, however, is not only limited to orphans — it is a reality facing some children today. Even those who live with their parents, guardians or relatives.

There are many ways of subjecting a child or children to neglect, and it's no secret that such despicable acts happen on the homefront and by very people who the childen are entrusted to.

These include neglecting a child's basic necessities, rights to proper living and protection from sexual abuse and violence, protection from child labour, and so forth.

It's one thing to be neglected at birth, but its even worse when a child or children get neglected in their developing years in their own homes.

Abuse of children has made news headlines time and again in this country and around the world.

Children have suffered at the hands of adults who abuse them in all sorts of ways, and feel no remorse for their actions nor consider the rights of a child.

Mrs Lata brought to light yet again a very important point — that some children facing neglect and abuse today were afraid and are still afraid to speak out because of fear and intimidation.

How do we as a concerned community address this issue? How do we approach this insecurity and provide a comfortable environment to help and encourage children in bondage to come forth and seek help?

Perhaps this would be a good place to start tackling this issue and show children of neglect and abusive backgrounds that they do have a voice, and help is available to them.

Mrs Lata's words serve as a reminder to all women and girls who bear children intentionally or unintentionally — to be responsible and remember that they are a gift from God. They must be given the love that they deserve, and nothing less.

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