Combating sexual exploitation and abuse: educational talk for young people
The MINUSCA Conduct and Discipline Team (CDT) today organized an educational talk for young girls and boys at the Lakouanga School in Bangui’s 2nd district – part of week-long community outreach activities aimed at tackling sexual exploitation and abuse committed by UN personnel.
Effectively raising awareness about Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) – a serious human rights violation with grave consequences – is a delicate but all-important task. Besides the transfer of knowledge to diverse groups on oftentimes sensitive subjects, language, tone and delivery must suit different audiences. This is especially crucial when targeting young audiences.
About 75 expectant young people aged 9 to 18 – the majority of them girls – took part in the session which was conducted in Sango. They were attentive and enthusiastically responded to questions. It is no coincidence that the organizers sought to primarily reach young girls as they are “more vulnerable” to sexual exploitation and abuse, according to MINUSCA CDT officer Joel Musavuli Mumbere.
“It is important to raise awareness on SEA among these children as this primary school is located close to UN bases and residences of UN personnel. The children are potentially exposed to acts of SEA,” he said.
The CDT outreach campaign across the Central African capital is being conducted within the framework of the UN’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse. Activities have also extended to discussion groups with members of religious groups and gender-based violence (GBV) service providers on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse. In addition, 40 members of the local early-warning network – made up of representatives of human rights NGOs, civil society, IDPs, students and motorcycle cab associations – were trained on mechanisms for receiving complaints and reporting allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel.
The overriding goal is to inform the different groups on the roles and responsibilities of MINUSCA’s Conduct and Discipline Team, on the core UN values and expected standards of behaviour by UN personnel, what constitutes acts of sexual exploitation and abuse, the consequences of SEA for victims, perpetrators, the UN and troop-contributing countries.
Significantly, participants also received information on seeking assistance for victims through designated Field Victims’ Rights Advocates (FVRAs).
On expected impact, Joel Mumbere voiced hope that the CDT awareness-raising activities will translate into prevention of SEA: “We can help protect the children and empower them to speak out against perpetrators and that, in turn, will further our work as we strive to put a stop to sexual exploitation and abuse.”
In line with the Secretary-General’s system-wide strategy to address sexual exploitation and abuse, the series of outreach activities is aimed at putting victims first, ending impunity, engaging civil society and other partners as well as improving education and transparency.