«Action for the Rights of Children (ARC) Critical Issues Abuse and Exploitation CONTENTS BRIEFING NOTES FOR FACILITATORS Page Introduction Topic 1: ...»
The Guidelines on Prevention and Response of Sexual Violence Against Refugees of 1995 mention unaccompanied children, children in foster care arrangement, and those in detention or detention like situations, as being most at risk of sexual violence and exploitation. The Guidelines state that UNHCR staff have an obligation to intervene whenever cases are reported or suspected and that the immediate physical and emotional consequences of sexual violence require a rapid response.
UNHCR Policy on Harmful Traditional Practices is spelled out in the IOM/FOM 83/97 of 1997. A harmful traditional practice which violates the individual rights of refugees will normally require the intervention of UNHCR.
UNHCR EXCOM Conclusion 84 of 1997, paragraph b)iii, calls on States to take all possible measures to protect refugee children and adolescents “by preventing sexual violence, exploitation, trafficking and abuse…”.
TRAINING MATERIALS FOR TOPIC 5Overhead 5.1: Key Learning Points for Topic 5 Summary of key learning points.
- Legal Issues: Exploitative Labour Discussion questions.
KEY LEARNING POINTS
• The prevention of exploitation is obviously preferable to measures to deal with the consequences of it, for children and families.
• For some children, risk factors can be cumulative, so it is essential to respond to their needs promptly.
• A child-centred situation analysis will be an essential pre-condition for the development of a preventive strategy.
• There are many possible strands to a preventive strategy, including:
livelihood issues, education and training, awareness raising, measures to protect women and children, visible procedures for reporting and monitoring instances of exploitation, and an effective police and judiciary system.
THE CONCEPT OF PREVENTION
It is self-evident that it is better to take steps to prevent exploitation than to deal with its consequences. However, the concept of prevention is deceptively complex and can take many forms. When devising a programme, it may be helpful to begin by asking what is being prevented, how this is being achieved, and how the results will be demonstrated. For example, in respect to working children, prevention can
be applied in various ways, and at different levels:
• by impacting on the reasons why children need to work, and providing meaningful alternatives for children and families;
• through promoting awareness of the importance of education and discouraging parents from allowing children to work;
• by interventions to prevent working children from drifting into more exploitative types of work.
Some children are more vulnerable to exploitation than others (e.g. separated children and child heads of households), and these children are more likely to become members of other high-risk groups, such as street children, prostitutes or child soldiers. Similarly, those children who have been demobilised from combat or who have been placed within families after living on the street, may find it particularly difficult to resume a normal life and may be more likely to drift into activities that ultimately lead to increased risk of exploitation. Children with various
types of disability may also be at increased risk - see Exercise 2.2: Case Study Brigitta.
A child-centred situation analysis will help to identify particular areas of risk and resources that might be deployed in developing appropriate preventive programmes. The ARC Resource Pack on Situation Analysis provides some methods of conducting such an analysis. It is vital that young people themselves are enabled to voice their own concerns and problems, and their own ideas on how exploitation might be prevented.
GENERAL PREVENTIVE STRATEGIES
Many preventive strategies will impact on both labour and sexual exploitation. The following are some key issues that might be addressed.
• Assessing risk by means of a child-centred situation analysis is an essential precondition for any preventive strategy. This will need to involve governmental and non-governmental agencies, other UN bodies and refugees themselves, including children and adolescents. Members of the community such as Traditional Birth Attendants and women’s leaders may help to identify hidden exploitation.
• Issues of poverty often lie behind all forms of exploitation. Programmes which address livelihood issues, provide appropriate job training, income-generation schemes and credit for micro-enterprise may, therefore, be vital in preventing exploitation.
• Facilitating children’s access to education - including secondary and vocational education - will be significant in diminishing risks of exploitation. Public education may help to raise awareness of the value of education within the community.
• Educating children on their rights, with various forms of social and life skills training will help young people to make better life choices and develop the skills of protecting themselves from exploitation.
• Awareness-raising within the refugee community about exploitative child labour and sexual exploitation will be important: this will necessarily involve refugee leaders, female refugees and other agencies. Although women may take a lead role in activities related to the prevention of, and response to, exploitation, it is vital that awareness-raising and educational initiatives target men as well.
• Addressing the needs of separated children promptly, through family tracing and securing appropriate and protected forms of care (preferably within families), is essential.
• Government responsibilities and responses should be encouraged and/or facilitated e.g. stressing government duties to implement legislation and investigate complaints. Training and capacity-building may be important in order to enable government staff (police, soldiers, social welfare workers etc.) to undertake their duties in a responsible, sensitive and skilled way.
• Assessing the situation of all people who have access to children may reveal the incidence of exploitation in unexpected situations, for example, in schools
and child care centres. The training of such staff and the monitoring of their work can be an important aspect of a preventive strategy.
DEVELOPING A PREVENTIVE APPROACHAlthough the primary responsibility for preventing and responding to cases of child abuse or exploitation lies with local authorities, including the police, judiciary, and welfare services, there may often be a lack of either capacity, will, resources, motivation, or skills to deal with the situation appropriately. Particularly in terms of prevention, even in situations where local authorities are responsive, a community mobilisation approach may be one of the most appropriate and effective means of protecting children and adolescents from abuse and exploitation, as well as for responding to individual cases as and when they arise. Facilitators may like to consider the ideas presented here in conjunction with the ARC Resource Pack on Community Mobilisation. Such an approach might involve some of the following steps.
• Getting a group of key people within the community together to define and explore the problem(s) they are concerned with, such as the sexual exploitation of women and girls, or the abuse of children within the family.
• The group might involve people who have experienced the problem personally, as well as other key people such as community leaders, health and social welfare workers, teachers, a UNHCR Protection Officer, etc.
• The group might explore the problem by undertaking modest surveys, using PRA methods or other simple techniques (see ARC Resource Pack on Situation Analysis, Topic 8). It will probably be necessary to gather qualitative as well as quantitative data, but care must always be taken in eliciting information of a personal and sensitive nature. It is important to be alert to the possibility that abuse and exploitation are to be found in unexpected places: it is not uncommon, for example, to encounter abusive school-teachers, foster parents and institutional staff.
• It is important that ways are found of listening to what children and adolescents themselves have to say, and avoid assuming that adults know what their problems are: young people may have both ideas and resources to bring to bear.
The analysis of the data would then lead into the planning of appropriate
responses. These might include, for example:
• a central point through which allegations of abuse and exploitation can be notified, with assurances that such information will be treated in a confidential manner;
• a sympathetic contact person(s) for women or children to turn to for initial help and support;
• the development of “safe house” arrangements to provide a refuge for women and/or children who have been abused while the allegations are being investigated;
• the negotiation of clear liaison arrangements with local authorities, the police, social welfare agencies, schools, health workers, security forces, community ________________________________________
Abuse and Exploitation - Revision Version 04/01 Page 34 Action for the Rights of Children (ARC) leaders, camp management and agencies such as UNHCR etc. (such arrangements would need to have an explicit understanding regarding the confidentiality of information);
• a support service, possibly operated by women who have themselves been abused or exploited and to whom people can refer themselves;
• a mediation service (possibly using community leaders, with the appropriate training) who can intervene and assist families in respect of inter-personal difficulties;
• the development of “safe spaces” such as clubs and organisations in which young people can share their ideas and concerns, with each other and with sensitive and caring adults.
It may be important that the provision of community services such as those suggested above are complemented by a public awareness and educational campaign to sensitise people to the problem, raise awareness of the various aspects of the problem, encourage people to take action when a child is thought to be abused or exploited, and inform people about possible sources of help and support. A public awareness campaign might also aim to target men and to seek ways both to address the problems they are experiencing, and to influence their behaviour within the family and community. It is unlikely to be sufficient just to target women Community groups, with the support of international and local agencies, may also be encouraged to find ways of advocating for the prosecution and punishment of offenders. Effective and visible means of bringing offenders to justice is an extremely important factor in deterring exploitative behaviour.
PARTICULAR STRATEGIES IN RELATION TO SEXUAL VIOLENCE
The protection of women and children in refugee camps and institutions is a critical preventive measure. This can be partly achieved by creating safe, well-lit (particularly around latrines etc.) physical layouts for camps to minimise the possibility of women and children being exposed to attack. In addition, it is important to ensure that all women and children have secured access to the goods and services of the camp or institution. Security patrols may be an important preventive measure, and women should also be included in the security staff of the camp. Sexual violence against women and children frequently occur simultaneously and are closely inter-connected. Both groups are almost always the most disempowered populations during and after times of upheaval.
There is evidence that trafficking networks sometimes are organised at the outset of conflict and flourish in camps and among refugee populations: it is therefore imperative that preventive approaches are considered at an early stage.
A lack of reporting and documentation on issues of sexual abuse and exploitation increases the vulnerability of children to suffer from sexual violence. Reporting sexual abuse and exploitation is important as a preventive and curative measure.
Owing to a fear of retaliation, embarrassment, ignorance, shame and ostracism, many victims and their families do not report incidents of sexual assault and/or exploitation. This fact makes it increasingly difficult to protect children, provide support and rehabilitation for the victims, and prevent such abuses from ________________________________________
Abuse and Exploitation - Revision Version 04/01 Page 35 Action for the Rights of Children (ARC) continuing. Therefore, it is important to have child-friendly, visible and widely publicised reporting mechanisms run by knowledgeable and sensitive staff and/or refugees. It is critical not to single out sexual violence victims but rather mainstream the reporting process with other violations of the rights of children.
Under-reporting is a serious risk because without reports, refugee workers and officials may deny the existence of sexual violence in their community. It is critical to be aware of the incidence of sexual assault to help prevent and lower a child’s risk of being victimised.
An essential aspect of any preventive approach is to ensure that young people themselves are given opportunities to articulate their needs and concerns and to participate actively in the design and implementation of preventive approaches.
TRAINING MATERIALS FOR TOPIC 6Overhead 6.1: Key Learning Points for Topic 6 Summary of key learning points
FURTHER SUGGESTIONS FOR TRAININGExercise 2.2 also raises issues about the prevention of sexual exploitation.
Exercise 8.3 is relevant to this topic.
KEY LEARNING POINTS
• Refugee children and adolescents should be protected from harmful and exploitative forms of work.