Sexual crimes against minors in Panama
With confinement and other restrictions on mobility imposed in Panama since last March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the numbers of reported sexual crimes against minors remain high.
Although there was a decrease in all the reported cases compared to 2019, authorities of the Public Ministry (MP) warn that the high figures are due, among other factors, to the quarantine in Panama. This is because the youth who normally attend school have been confined in their home, leaving little escape from adult predators.
According to figures from the MP, 4,515 complaints of sexual crimes against minors had been reported in the country this year, while in the same period of 2019 there were 5,500 complaints. While there was a decrease of 17.9%, it is unknown how many cases have gone unreported due to the current situation in the country.
On the other hand, complaints on sexual exploitation of minors increased by 9.38%, going from 245 in 2019 to 268 this year.
Kira Brokamp, coordinating prosecutor of the MP’s Sex Crimes Unit, acknowledged that, based on the premise that victims usually know their aggressors, as reflected in official statistics, the confinement imposed by the pandemic could have had an impact on the figures reported this year. But, in addition, the consumption of alcohol and drugs by the aggressors must be considered.
He also explained that the increase in the use of electronic devices during the pandemic has made adolescents more vulnerable to the crime of corruption of minors.
In this scenario, he opined that the constant supervision of parents can prevent the commission of these crimes.
Prison sentencing for sexual abuse of minors in Panama
Article 220 of the Penal Code establishes penalties of two to four years in prison for people who have sexual relations with minors, a sentence that could increase by one third when the aggressor is a family member, guardian, educator, minister of a religious cult or was in charge of the care and upbringing of the minor.
This provision was amended in 2018, to prevent the aggressors from reaching sentencing agreements