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Young voices for justice

Gender-based violence and sexual exploitation are big issues in Colombia, but they aren’t ones that people like to talk about. And that’s a big part of the problem.

As a result, children and youth who’ve been displaced by poverty or civil unrest all too easily get lured into the sex trade in tourist centres, while girls and women everywhere face regular threats to their safety.

With your help, we’re funding innovative programs for young people to break the silence by raising their voices to promote awareness and dialogue as the seeds of change. This has included:

  • A collaboration between nationally-renowned musician Louis Tower and a group of girls and boys living in shelters for exploited children, who worked together to write and produce a song condemning gender-based violence that is now being broadcast by radio stations across the country (you can hear the song in the video below!)
  • The creation of youth media clubs and the production of several short films by young people that are being viewed at schools, shelters and community centres
  • Support for the Neither Bought Nor Sold campaign, which has helped schools and more than 26,000 people take part in information sessions and community demonstrations, including the distribution of 14,000 flyers and 9,000 wristbands calling on participants to “use your power against sexual violence”
  • Two mass bicycle rides by adolescents through tourist areas to raise awareness about the importance of preventing the sexual exploitation of children.

“Our main goal is to sensitize different communities, schools and youth organizations so that they become aware of how much exploitation hurts, and the importance of protecting us,” says one of the girls who took part in the bicycle rides.

And already, thanks to your support, these efforts are making a difference in people’s lives.

“There are many cases of abuse that we’ve found out about because of these programs”, says Maria, a local campaign leader. “After talks, people approach us, somewhat timidly, but the important thing is that at least that kind of situation is now seen as something that is not right.”

Voices raised

Take a moment to meet the children we’re working with in Colombia, while listening to the song they wrote and produced with local musician Louis Tower, in collaboration with Plan’s local partner (the Renacer Foundation). The video features photos from that musical collaboration, as well as our youth media initiatives, and local outreach events at schools and community centres.

Return to the Because I am a girl project