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Youth calls for participation in the fight against Sexual Exploitation

© UNICEF/Argentina/2008

Buenos Aires, August 21, 2008 - There was a strong presence of young people at the Preparatory Meeting for the Third World Congress against Sexual Exploitation of Children: a delegation of 16 teenagers between 14 and 16 years presented the contributions they can make in the fight against violence and sexual abuse and drafted a declaration asking for stronger participation, especially in prevention campaigns, which will accompany the official documents to be presented at the international conference in Brazil next november.
19-year-old Luciano Fiorelli from Mar del Plata, 18-year-old Martin Fauci from the Buenos Aires Province, Florence Encina,16, from Neuquen, Juliet Andreotti,17, from the Capital, Nathalí Borjas,16, and Jujuy and Julian Jimenez, both 17, from Misiones, were the Argentine delegates who drafted and signed a final declaration along with their peers in the region, calling for more youth participation, the design of public policy which gives them an active, leading role, as well as physical and psychological care and rehabilitation centers for victims of sexual exploitation, abuse and violence, which they claimed are missing.

"The kids do not know where to go if something happens to them, because there are no places to receive care" said Florence.

"It is true, “ added Luciano. “If something like this happens to a child or adolescent, there is no special center where they would get help. The kids from Venezuela commented that the same thing is going on in their country: it is a problem common to many countries of this region. "
Did they know anything about sexual exploitation and abuse before being summoned to the Preparatory Meeting? Luciano confirms, “yes, it is an issue that we all know something about and which should worry us much more."

© UNICEF/Argentina/2008

Julian from Misiones agrees, "in the triple frontier area, in the city of Puerto Iguaçu, the problem is much greater because many facilities exist for the trafficking of boys and girls. Controls are very rare: the triple frontier is one of the weakest points of the country, where most cases of exploitation and violence occur. “

"Justice does not always act,” added Nathalí. “In Jujuy there are many children who were trafficked from Bolivia. They are sold to work on the fields, they have no decent housing, they are mistreated, and nobody protects them.“

During workshops the delegations of young people from Latin America and the Caribbean reached a fairly similar diagnosis and agreed upon regional strategies. "We need more information,” said Martín. “We need to get engaged, get in touch with other young people in public spaces and achieve commitments from the governments." 

"We exchanged many ideas and learned a bit about what happens elsewhere," Florence intervened. "For example -Martin continued, there are countries that are more advanced in some things like Brazil, which has more attention centers. This is a successful experience which could be adapted."

The participation of children and adolescents is one of the rights enshrined in the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (ICRC) which indicates that they must be consulted, as subjects of law, on issues that affect them, and their views must be taken into account.

"Why is it important to consult young people about sexual exploitation and abuse? Because we are the victims! “ said Juliet. ”Communication between young people is more effective,” said Luciano. “It is not the same if the message comes from adults because we understand what is happening to us, so sometimes, we communicate better among peers. In Mar del Plata, for example, we would like to organize workshops in schools to initiate the dialogue about things that nobody would otherwise like to talk about”.

"The participation of young people in prevention campaigns is critical, because it is easier for us to get the message across among young people,” Julian concluded. I think if you listened to us, the results of the campaigns would be much better ".

For further information
Tamar Hahn, thahn@unicef.org, (+507) 301 7485, UNICEF Latin America and Caribbean


UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.


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