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Guam takes a stand against sexual abuse

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As Chamorro Month comes to a close, the month of April brings our attention to a new set of issues. With recent reports of abuse and assault flooding the news, the timing couldn't be better for the Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence to host a proclamation signing to bring awareness to the issue.

Organization director Cynthia Cabot said, "There continues to be a stigma associated with sexual assault and child abuse underscoring the need for continued education outreach." According to national statistics there are 293,000 victims of sexual assault each year, while one in ten children experience child maltreatment. One in sixteen of these children also experience sexual abuse. These experiences can have lasting effects for the victims.

"Justice isn't only about the restitution," Cabot continued. "Justice involves the care and comfort that victims should receive from caseworkers, law enforcement officers, legal counsels, social workers and advocates, and it involves us." The community can do its part by committing to report any knowledge or signs of abuse and assault, and advocating against it.

The 33rd Guam Legislature did just this by presenting a resolution while the Office of the Governor and Joint Region Marianas in collaboration with the Naval Base Guam and Andersen Air Force Base signed proclamations recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention Month. Chied of Joint Staff Colonel Robert Crisostomo affirmed these sentiments, saying, "Sexual assault has no room in the Guam Army National Guard. We take it very seriously and it will be dealt with swiftly and without hesitation."

The guest speaker was Public Health director James Gillan, whose agency oversees Child Protective Services. "One thing we do have is a great partnership, not only with our military brothers and sisters, but among ourselves with the Judiciary and the Legislature, and of course, the Executive Branch," he announced.

Basil O'Mallan was also recognized as the Guam nominee for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center Visionary Voice Award. He is the assistant attorney general for the Attorney General's Office and has worked extensively with the Family Violence and Sex Crimes Unit.

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