Monday, 31 January 2011

Stepping-out Prostitution: Supporting young women to reclaim their rights and change their lives

Mudando de Vida/Cambio de Vida: Aprender de Programas que Apoyan a la Salida del Trabajo Sexual Comercial de Mujeres y Menores en América Latina. Programa de las Religiosas Adoratrices -Bolivia, Sodireitos –Brasil/Surinam y Tesis –Nicaragua con financiamiento externo del Gobierno Neerlandesa a través de ICCO& Kerk in Actie.

Since early 2010 three ICCO/KiA partners have access to specially earmarked funding from the Dutch government (made available to implement the motion Van Staay/CU) to address the needs of children exploited in commercial sex trade and support women who - voluntarily - wish to leave prostitution. In the Cambio de Vida project TESIS, in Managua-Nicaragua, Sodireitos in Belem-Brazil and the Sisters Adoratrices in Bolivia draw on their experience and research and are engaged in a systematic process of collaborative learning-by-doing. Early March 2011 staff from the three organizations will come together at an learning event hosted by the Adoratrices. Together they will share their experiences and the lessons they learned over the past year(s).
And they have a quite some experience, very diverse experiences. TESIS supports - mostly young – women that, as they phrase is – are in a situation of prostitution. Where the women work may actually vary from an upscale nightclub via low-end bars to the street of the city of Managua and though their situation has some communalities there are also vast differences between these women. Sodireitos works with (young) women that have been, or are at risk of being trafficked to brothels in Surinam. Sodireitos applies a rights-based approach and – working together with its Surinam counterparts - aims to support women so they can actually claim their (socio-economic, sexual and other) rights, including the rights they have as workers and migrants. The Sisters Adoratrices generally label their target group as “women and children that are prostituted”. A large part of their work is dedicated to attend to minors – as young as 13 years old – that are a brought to their care, often by the police with whom they also work to ensure the treatment by the authorities does not further traumatize these children. In their work in support of prostituted women, the Adoratrices also coordinate with local organizations that defends the rights of commercial sex workers.

The main goal for the regional event in March will be learn and share experiences. High on the agenda will be how to improve our monitoring and learning. Much information is gathered to be able to report and comply with the need for transparency, but how can we make use of this information and learn and actually improve our practice on the ground? For example, while we may know how many women participated in a particular event, do we also know which women did or did not complete their courses and why? And what does that mean for how we work? Besides monitoring practices and learning, another important agenda item will be the issue of trafficking, which – with the borders opening up more every day in Central and South America - is a common concern

Civil society is diverse and approaches to sexual exploitation and commercial sex work vary broadly. Even the actual words used to talk about what whom we work with and what we do, carry political and moral connotations. In this ICCO/Kerk in Actie program the focus is on acknowledging such diversity and drawing on that diversity, promoting effectiveness and learning to capitalize on all the energies and strengths of civil society.

The regional program event is scheduled for 28 February – 3 March in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Participation is by invitation only. If you are interested in more information on the program or the event please let us know by posting a comment.

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