Standing up for young victims of sexual violence and fighting to reduce this in Ayacucho, Peru.

On May 12th a silent march against sexual violence and other violence was held in Antwerp. The march came after the murder of 23-year-old student Julie van Espen.

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  “I don't have a single female friend who has never experienced anything. This country can do so much better”, said the organizers. The news about what happened to Julie, affects us and makes us justly angry.

In Peru this kind of news items is – unfortunately - order of the day. And that’s why Solid is fighting.

 At the moment we have 12 under-age girls in our shelter, 7 of them victim of sexual violence. 3 are with child or pregnant, all unwanted, but forced to keep it. 3 girls were found on the street, lethargic and drugged. To tell their story, they will need time and care. But with a lot time and energy we produce results. Like with a 9 year old girl who has been staying with us for 2 years now. Together with her sister, she grew up in the circus of her parents, that travelled all over the country. Her elder sister has 2 children from incest and is emotionally a complete mess. Thanks to a lot of therapy the 9-year-old girl is doing well now. Emotionally she’s stable, she can comprehend that her parents neglected her and that she will grow up with SOS Children’s Villages. She managed to make up for years of arrears at school and is minister of health for our shelter now. On her own initiative, she went to pharmacies to negotiate for extra vitamins for the girls. She was so proud!

 

Another girl that stayed with us, could rent a room of her own after 2 years in the shelter and is now learning to stand on her own legs, within the Assisted Living project. At first she declined again emotionally and neglected and abused her 4 year old son. She felt so lonely and alone and didn’t want this child, a child that brought her childhood to a stop, at the age of 14. The child was temporarily accommodated in SOS Children's Villages. The boy is doing well now and his mother visits him twice a week. His mother is also doing well, she’s been able to continue her studies, work and save some money and she wants to continue her studies at the university. Soon, her son can live with her again, which she is looking forward to. At the moment he’s still recovering from a 4th operation on his lip, after he was born with an open lip. It will still be a long way to make her strong enough to stand on her own two feet and feel sufficiently connected to society, because she does not have any support from family.

 

But even more important is to prevent all this. With our prevention project in schools - we deploy 3 employees and a number of motivated volunteers to get started in 3 high schools with 83 teachers and 2500 students. The approach is to motivate teachers to use their "tutoria" lessons to provide interactive workshops that focus on the prevention of teenage pregnancies. Youngsters are strengthened in self-confidence, resilience, sex education, talents, etc. For the teachers this is new, to change from the class system of "learning by heart and repeating" to reflection and interchange with students, but the students love it. Our prevention project provides all the material and the necessary support. We also focus on risk groups. For example, recently a group of 10 self-mutilating students was taken care of. Working with Recovery-Oriented Circles was added to our methodologies this year, alongside working Solution-Oriented and Experience-Oriented. And it could be used immediately. In one of the classes a young student committed suicide. Thanks to a recovery-oriented circle, the class in crisis could adequately be taken care of. Another student was just in time prevented from going into prostitution, in the loverboy circuit. But a report to the authorities about this led to nothing. There is still a long way to go…

 Solid keeps on standing up for young victims of sexual violence and wants to strongly reduce this in Ayacucho.