LA PAZ – A total de 138 children and teenagers were raped in six shelters in the central region of Cochabamba, according to complaints filed since July 2009, the Los Tiempos newspaper reported Tuesday.
The most recent case was discovered at the end of January in the Vida Bolivia shelter, where at least 42 children between 4 and 13 are confirmed to have been sexually abused by older teenagers living in that home.
Preliminary investigations show negligence and complicity on the part of personnel at the shelter, who for three years knew about the abuses being committed but said nothing.
In January, however, one of the kids living at the shelter escaped and told his mother about the abuse, and she was able to get the Cochabamba province Sedeges social services agency and prosecutors to intervene.
The first case of rape in Cochabamba shelters was discovered in July 2009 in the San Benito facility, where 22 children and teenagers were victims of sexual abuse, Los Tiempos said.
Another of the previous cases came to light in September at the Immaculate Conception shelter, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Cochabamba, when it was found that at least eight minors between the ages of 4 and 15 were allegedly raped by two teenagers also living at the facility.
Another group of 18 girls who were living at Colonia Ecologica, a shelter in the town of Tiquipaya, were raped in October, which was discovered when a 14-year-old girl got pregnant.
A month later, another 10 girls at the San Ignacio de Loyola shelter were found to have been sexually abused, while a case of 38 rapes was uncovered in December at the Valle del Sinai shelter, also in Cochabamba.
In only four of the cases has any progress been made in the investigations or any arrests made, Los Tiempos said.
Sedeges decided last year to impose stricter requirements both on the opening of shelters and on the hiring of personnel to work in them. EFE