With the support of the European Union, Save the Children and its partner in Lebanon KAFA (Enough) Violence and Exploitation have launched a week-long advocacy campaign “The key to protection is a word”, aiming to raise awareness of children to protect them from sexual abuse. The campaign started on Monday with a press conference launching the opening of 15 child and adolescent friendly spaces.
The child and adolescent friendly spaces are part of European Union/Save the Children's funded regional project “Protecting Adolescents from Gender Based Violence through the Promotion of their Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights” implemented in Lebanon in partnership with KAFA, as well as in the occupied Palestinian territory and Yemen. The friendly spaces aim to provide children and adolescents with information and educational materials on sexual and reproductive health rights. Trained service providers are available in the centres to provide counseling, refer children and adolescents when needed, and conduct awareness raising sessions for children, adolescents, and parents.
Monday's press conference brought together government representatives, non-governmental organisations, civil society stakeholders, and the media to claim children and adolescents' right to access information on sexual and reproductive health issues.
Director of KAFA Zoya Rouhana highlighted the difficult mission that Kafa and Save the Children chose when they first tackled child sexual abuse, a taboo subject in the region: “we were rejected not only by individuals but also by community-based organisations and private schools”. Save the Children Lebanon Country Director Ruba Khoury presented the three toolkits on sexual and reproductive health rights that were produced to serve as culturally sensitive and regionally-tested information.
Head of Operations Section at the European Union Delegation in Lebanon, Mr. Diego Escalona Paturel, outlined the importance of similar toolkits and centres in Lebanon: “Adolescents need to make informed, safe and healthy choices. While the subject in itself is very sensitive, cutting right across different cultural and religious beliefs, adolescents should have a right to age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health information, education, and services that enable them to deal positively and responsibly with their sexuality.”