“Now if this happens to someone, I know I will know how to help”
Earlier this summer, KIND visited Casa Alianza, a children’s rights organization in Honduras, where a group of children and teens between the ages of 12 and 16 were gathered in a large classroom covered in colorful posters to participate in a workshop on sexual violence prevention, as part of a new partnership between KIND and Casa Alianza for children and families in high migration areas. This programming is urgently needed in Honduras, where nearly 70 percent of victims of sexual violence are between 5 and 19 years old, and perpetrators are punished in fewer than 10 percent of cases.
Noelia, a Casa Alianza Honduras psychologist, engaged the group in an interactive discussion about their right to a life free from sexual violence, including their right to make decisions about their bodies and to say “no” or leave a situation when someone says or does something that makes them uncomfortable. Noelia also explained the importance of talking to a trusted adult if they or someone they know experiences violence and where they can go to access medical and mental health services.
Cesia, an attorney at Casa Alianza, told participants about Honduran laws to protect against sexual violence and how to report violence to Honduran authorities. Children and youth participated enthusiastically in the discussion, sharing information they learned in previous workshops and asking questions about what constitutes sexual violence and how to respond if someone they know if experiences violence.
The facilitators emphasized the need to talk openly about sexual violence and its impact in the lives of children and youth in order to combat the stigma and victim blaming that can prevent survivors of violence from receiving the help they need.
A 16-year-old boy described to KIND what he learned from the program: “This is something that’s affecting youth, and now if this happens to someone I know I will know how to help.”
Noelia told KIND that the series of workshops on gender equity, healthy relationships, and violence prevention, of which this was a part, has had a strong impact, particularly for girls. “We come from a machista society that says that girls can’t do certain things, that their options are limited. We are telling them that they have so many options, that they can be who they want to be. Through the program they are empowered, it’s like a new world is open to them.”
Children and youth who participated in the workshop series are part of Casa Alianza’s residential program, which provides a safe space along with mental health, educational, and legal support for children affected by homelessness, violence, or neglect. Casa Alianza Honduras also advocates for children’s rights in Honduras. KIND has partnered with Casa Alianza since 2016 to help returned migrant children and youth to reintegrate into their homes and communities.
This year, 243 children in Casa Alianza’s residential program and in local schools in the capital Tegucigalpa have participated in the workshop series. Children’s families have also joined; they learned strategies for positive and supportive communication with their children, an essential tool to ensuring that their children will feel comfortable going to them for help if they have experienced violence.
KIND is excited to continue this partnership with Casa Alianza to promote the right of children and youth in Honduras to a life free from sexual and gender-based violence.
Visit Casa Alianza’s website for more information on their work with children in Honduras.