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MINISTERIAL STATEMENT Minister of Social Services

Our hearts bleed once again with the nation with the unimaginable sexual abuse and senseless killing of another of our children.

These occurrences are now too regular, and these stories are too abhorrent to fathom.

The death of little Ariel Bhola, alien to our values and who we are as a people, affects us all.

We shall not – and must not -- remain numb nor silent in the face of unspeakable evil.

And while the government is set to budget even more again for child protection in the coming period; and while stronger legislation has been drafted to take  tougher stances against abusers, we are afraid that this won’t be enough until our collective consciences are shaken, and we as a people find the resolve to take back our communities.

It is not enough for us to shrug our shoulders and dismiss it as the way of the world.

Our nation must establish its own creed of virtue and righteousness that transcends religion, politics and social strata.

Even so, I am taking to cabinet this week fresh proposals for additional measures including the establishment of a child sexual abuse registry that will be part of the wave against this trend.

It is an issue that was already under discussion, and which we must fast track.

Officials and counselors from the Ministry of Social Services have been in touch with the family, as we continue to provide all the necessary support in the circumstances. Those services will continue as long as they are needed.

I have also had a conversation with family members – one of the most difficult conversations any human being could have, where words are never enough.

Minister of Health Nickolas Steele has also been instrumental in getting support services for the affected family.

As Minister for Social Services, but more importantly as a mother and daughter, I am personally moved and offended by this tragedy.

My prayers and condolence go out to the family and to the community, even while knowing that this is little comfort in these terrible times.

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