Strengthening participatory practice with children and young people affected by sexual violence
Our Voices collaborate with youth advisors on a film and poster project to raise awareness of sexual violence in Albania.
In 2015 the ‘Our Voices’ project secured a small amount of funds to help groups of young people to take part in a short project. Supported by staff of the organisation ‘Different & Equal’ in Albania, a group of young people decided to make a movie and design a poster to raise awareness about sexual violence.
The Youth Advisors presented their film and poster to 354 young people during information sessions, which they held at universities, schools and youth centres. During these information sessions, the Youth Advisors shared information about sexual violence and gave other young people the opportunity to openly discuss issues around sex and sexual violence.
The Youth Advisors wrote a blog about their experiences of being involved in this project. Here is what they said:
A group of us (10 youth advisors) got together to plan activities for the second phase of the ‘Our Voices’ project. We decided to make a short movie to raise awareness about sexual violence in Albania. The movie started with general information about sexual violence including statistics of sexual violence rates in Albania and worldwide. It ended with encouraging messages from young people who survived sexual violence.
We also designed a poster with the message “Overcome pain, talk about sexual violence”, listing contact numbers for young people to get help. We put the poster up in schools and youth centres.
We presented the movie and poster in three different cities (Tirane, Lezha and Berat) to 354 young people between the ages of 16 and 19. We held 15 information sessions at schools, universities and community centres, during which we introduced the project, shared information about sexual violence and had an open discussion with other young people about this issue.
Being included in this project was a great experience for us. Using our time to help young people in Albania made us feel useful. We feel proud of being involved in this project and of what we have achieved
During the project we learned a lot about sexual violence. We discovered new things about ourselves and listened to different opinions from other young people. We also developed new skills. We learned to not hesitate and to engage ourselves in discussions. This was difficult for us in the beginning but, in time, it got easier for us to participate actively.
Young people in Albania are very interested in this topic and asked many questions about the causes and ways to prevent sexual violence. Some young people lacked information about the different forms of sexual violence and, for example, were surprised to hear that it can also affect boys. During the information sessions we developed the confidence to talk about sensitive issues like sex and sexual violence in front of a group of people we didn’t know. Facilitators from the organisation ‘Different & Equal’ supported us during this phase.
Even today it is considered shameful and a taboo to talk about sexual issues in Albania, though things are slowly changing. The good thing is that we found young people to be open to new information and willing to learn. We wish this project could reach out to other areas of Albania where people lack information about sexual violence and refuse to talk about it. It would be good to also involve adults and other institutions, not just young people.
We hope that people realise that sexual violence is a big issue that can affect everyone. Our hope is that everybody knows what they can do to prevent or help in cases of sexual violence.