Parwati makes a presentation on the meaning of abuse to an international group of young education activists in Kathmandu.
KATHMANDU, Nepal, 10 December 2008 – Last week, organizations and groups of young people from around the world gathered in Brazil to bring attention to the problem of child trafficking and sexual exploitation at the World Congress Against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents. One young activist from Nepal, 16-year-old Parwati, spoke to UNICEF Radio before the Congress about the efforts she is making to help children in her country.
Parwati is a Peer Supporter with the Youth Partnership Project (YPP), which is part of ECPAT International (End Chid Prostitution Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes).
YPP's Peer Supporters offer support and friendship to survivors of commercial sexual exploitation. They also travel to schools and shelters in their communities and work with children who may be at risk. Parwati says there are more than 50 Peer Supporters across Nepal.
"This has built skills of peer counseling in me and my friends trust me and share their problems with me with the hope that I can help them out. I am satisfied when I get to help my friends," she said.
Parwati says many of the girls she works with have experienced sexual abuse. She told the story of one girl she met in a peer support group.
"One adult used to give money to her and used to touch sensitive parts," she said. "After meeting that adult her behavior changed."
sing the skills she learned as a Peer Supporter, Parwati started to spend time with the girl.
"When she became more close to me, I asked, 'I find lots of changes in you, what happened?'" Over time, the girl shared her story.
"I knew this was abuse," Parwati said. "I told her it is not good - you tell that adult you don't like it."
Parwati told the girl she would support her, and the man finally stopped molesting her.
Poverty a root cause
In poorer countries like Nepal, children are often extremely vulnerable to exploitation. Parwati says orphans and street children should be given shelter to protect them.
She hopes to continue working to educate children on how to avoid sexual exploitation.
"Through the YPP, I came to know about various issues related to children and it has made me aware about the conditions of the children and what needs to be done to protect and support children and youth. I have been very close to YPP and it has become an integral part of my life," she said.