Empowering vulnerable youth (street children)

Empowering vulnerable youth (street children)

Raza Hussnain


Human Development Network, Islamabad, Pakistan

Introduction As poverty

continues to grip Pakistan, the number of urban street children grows and has

now reached alarming proportions – demanding far greater action than presently

offered. Urbanization, natural catastrophe, diseases, war or internal conflict,

economic breakdown causing unemployment and homelessness has forced families and

children in search of a “better life” often putting children at risk

of abuse and exploitation.

Objectives To reduce drug use on the streets in

particular injectable drug use and prevent the transmission of STDs/HIV/AIDS

among vulnerable youth.

Methodology Baseline study and Situation assessment of

HIV and STDs among street children of Quetta, Pakistan

Activities and conclusion Launching a Peer Education program, which includes awareness of self

and body protection focusing on child sexual abuse and STDs/HIV/AIDS, life

skills, gender and human rights/children rights awareness, preventive health

measure, and care at work.

Opening care and counseling center for these working

and street children and handling these centers over to local communities. During

awareness sessions, Youth are informed about the nutrition, physical and

psychological changes, masturbation, menstrual cycle, family planning and STDs/HIV/AIDS.

It was determined relationships among AIDS related knowledge, beliefs and sexual

behavior of young adults and found that reason for unsafe sex included,

misconception about disease etiology, conflicting cultural values, risk denial

partner pressures, trust and partner significance, accusation of promiscuity,

lack of community endorsement of protective measures, and barrier to condom

access. In addition socio economic pressure, physiological issues, poor

community participation and attitudes, and low education level limited the

effectiveness of existing AIDS prevention education. According to Baseline study

the male children are exposed to the knowledge of safe sex through peers, Hakims

and blue films. This knowledge is not authentic has many misconceptions. Working

children found sexual information through older children and their Ustad (teachers).

Recommendations on the findings It was found that highly vulnerable to STIs/HIV/AIDS

among adolescents are the working children, as they lack protective measures

during any sexual abuse attempt are unaware of safe sexual practices. Training

of adolescent as Peer educators is recommended. Such information should be given

to youth but do not challenge local norms and values Youth do not have

sufficient knowledge and practice about safe sex. Problem based learning’s and

participatory education for improving knowledge And condom, community-based

interventions should be considered for STDs/HIV/AIDS prevention. Ours beings an

Islamic society and a culture with set values, such information can be given

relating it to religious teachers.

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