The Jessika Borda Foundation's Donation for Dignity

The Jessika Borda Foundation for Aid to Victims of Crime, located in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, recently donated a "Gessel chamber" to the "Defensoría del Niño", Bolivia's equivalent of Child Protective Services. Headed by Rhea Borda, the Foundation continues to seek ways to support public institutions (many of which are poorly funded and may not have access to the latest technology and training) in the ongoing fight against rising crime rates in Bolivia.

The Gessel chamber was created by American psychologist Arnold Gessel (1880-1961) who studied the stages of child development. It consists of two rooms with a large glass partition. Through this window, observers can watch as the children are interviewed without them feeling the pressure of being observed.

The object is to interview the children only once, to avoid contamination of the victim's testimony, and the interview takes place in a specially conditioned environment, not in a courtroom, and much less in view of the victim's aggressor. The courtroom is equipped with the technical logistics necessary to follow the interview remotely, and only intervenes with the child indirectly and through a psychologist.

The children/adolescents benefit greatly from this by avoiding the repititon (up to 6 times during the legal process) of the horrible atrocities to which they were submitted in front of different audiences, some including the presence of their aggressor. By filming their testimony under private, comfortable and discrete circumstances, where they don't even suspect they are being taped, and where people they trust are with them, the dignity they lost is returned to them, thus helping them in their physical and psychological recovery process.

The chamber, will be used by the Defensorías mostly for victims of child abuse and sexual abuse. Click here to read more about the Jessika Borda Foundation and the steps they are taking to help fight crime in Santa Cruz.

Source: Jessika Borda Foundation Date: July 2011

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