Helping Ourselves Prevent Exploitation” (HOPE), an EU funded project on raising awareness and prevention of sexual exploitation of children and young women with disabilities, is approaching its 2nd year.
The small consortium consists of the coordinator British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD), the Bulgarian partner Social Association “St. Andrew” (SASA) in cooperation with local partners, and EASPD. So far, a group of peer mentors has been recruited and trained to lead accessible learning programs which will promote an understanding of sexual exploitation in the UK (BILD) and now in Bulgaria (SASA).
In Varna, Bulgaria, the HOPE project is led by Social Association “St. Andrew” in cooperation with local partners such as the “Co-Participation” Association.
After a one-day Train the trainer course for 11 participants with BILD in Varna, the development and testing of first drafts of training materials, workbooks and action plans a three-day-peer mentor training with five peer mentor candidates and one assistant took place. Peer mentors are with Roma-Bulgarian origin, living in socioeconomically isolated Roma-Bulgarian communities, or with special learning needs, living in community based social services or at home. The Peer mentor training was followed by six half-day workshops with 24 young people.
The 24 young people are with special learning needs, living in socioeconomically isolated Roma-Bulgarian communities, where poverty and social exclusion often lead to risky behaviour (especially for 15 to 25 year olds) that includes:
- Paid sexual work and pimping (including as “family-business”) and human trafficking for sexual exploitation
- Early marriages and early parenthood
- Girls and boys leaving school early with girls kept home until early marriage
- Low reporting of sexual exploitation because of lack of trust and prejudice against existing health, social and legal services
- Outreach workers are trusted and critical to improving the reporting of sexual exploitation.
After the workshops each participant worked individually with their trainers and peer mentors on their personal action plan and its implementation. That included for boys and girls improving relationships with their parents – specially girls have little practice in controlling their own lives as their parents decide when to get married and what to do with their future; prevention of sexually transmitted infections including use of condoms and hygiene and prevention of human trafficking for sexual exploitation.
19 December, 2017