Paulina Quintao – Child abandonment cases are on the rise in Timor-Leste, according to Legal Assistance for Women and Children (ALFeLa) director Merita Correia.
She said the children abandoned were often born out of adulterous relationships. In the past, adultery was outlawed in Timor-Leste under the Indonesian penal code.
She said it was important abandoned children were registered as such with the Public Ministry to allow them to claim financial support.
Casa Vida co-ordinator Domingas Soares said there were currently 75 minors at the shelter home, most of whom had been abandoned or were victims of violence or sexual abuse.
She called on the government to turn its attention to these young victims as they would be unable to remain at the shelter indefinitely. "We are currently trying to provide more homes for vulnerable children," she said.
Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality Idelta Maria Rodrigues said she was concerned about the effect abandonment had on children.
"Domestic violence is increasing as well as incest," she said. "There have been about 30 cases of people who are married to close relatives in 2014."
She said SEPI planned to establish a national directorate for the protection of families to tackle such problems.