Protection of children and young people against sexual exploitation
The extent to which children and young people are sexually exploited in Columbia is alarmingly high. According to figures from UNICEF, there were more than 48,000 cases of online sexual abuse and exploitation of minors reported in Columbia between 2012 and 2018. Since 2016, various aid organisations have been working together with the Columbian authorities to improve the system for reporting sexual abuse on the web. Over 13,000 websites containing child pornography content have since been blocked.
The current migration of people from Venezuela to Columbia represents an additional risk factor for sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Among the approximately one million Venezuelan migrants, every fourth person is underage. Considering the increase in the sexual exploitation of children and young people, putting preventive measures in place has become a key issue.
Caritas international has successfully collaborated with the nuns of the Religiosas Adoratrices (Adoration Sisters) order since 2007, with their focus now on a shared project that provides children and young people, along with their families, with comprehensive psychosocial care aimed at reducing existing risk factors, as well as strengthening the control and protection mechanisms of this target group. Caritas and the Religiosas Adoratrices are also highlighting the problem of sexual abuse of children and young people, and promoting a culture of prevention via indirect intervention in schools and colleges, as well as high-publicity events.
There will be 74 events organised as part of this project, aimed at preventing the sexual exploitation of 240 vulnerable children and young people, as well as developing self-defence mechanisms. Around 3,000 children and young people will take part in an educational excursion each year also. Psychosocial care will be provided during home visits to 30 families each year (altogether 240 children and 120 parents in two years). There will also be 30 families taking part in an annual event with 180 participants. The project will also involve promoting the active participation of children and young people in decision-making bodies, working out approaches to care with other private and public institutions, as well as holding training and information events for adults from ten institutions with the aim of sharing and developing preventive measures.
Improving the self-esteem of these minors, while also getting the parents on board, will greatly reduce the risk of them getting caught up in prostitution, drug trafficking or drug use themselves. The Redel Foundation is supporting these efforts with €100,000.