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The exact numbers surrounding the sexual exploitation of children in Colombia are unknown due to an enduring culture of silence but
the figures estimated by the Colombian government are alarming:
Our partner Asociación Cristiana de Jóvenes (ACJ) works in Bogotá combating child sexual exploitation at a youth centre in Santa Fe, in the middle of the ‘tolerance zone’, a particularly vulnerable zone where sex work, gangs and drugs are rife. In this youth centre, ACJ runs recreational workshops for children and adolescents, as well as providing psychological support for them and their families. Through this they are able to learn about their rights and gain skills to protect themselves from exploitation. ACJ also helps sex workers and informal workers to find alternative employment routes which are better for their wellbeing.
Our partner Círculo de Estudios (CDE) works to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the regions of Cartagena & Quibdó. Workshops are run to teach young people about their rights and psychological support is provided to survivors and their families. The children learn how to overcome the trauma they suffer as a result of their experiences, and how to protect themselves from future violence.
Much of our work with our partner Circulo de Estudios (in Quibdó & Cartagena) centres around music, theatre and dance workshops. These art forms enable young people to express themselves, and at the same time reclaim ownership of their bodies in a positive way, as vessels for beauty rather than of exploitation and pain.
Furthermore, it is one of the only opportunities they have to play and behave as children, in a community where they are more likely to be valued as a means of bringing in more income for their family or for carrying out tasks for an armed group.
All these things help the recovery process, helping to shape brighter, healthier futures.