On a mission to reduce high levels of sexual violence in Papua New Guinea |

“Most of the GBV survivors we see at the clinic are young adults,” says Primrose, youth coordinator for the Family Health Association (FHA) in East New Britain province.

She just left the stage after giving a presentation to senior students at Kokopo High School as part of FHA’s school outreach program, in which she told students they could contact the FHA if they wanted to. they needed help, and that violence is never the survivor. fault.

Primrose and her team of peer educators hope to reduce physical and sexual violence through their work to raise awareness in schools and communities in East New Britain.

Spotlight/Rachel Donovan Initiative

Primrose, Youth Coordinator for the Family Health Association (FHA) in East New Britain province, speaks to senior year students at Kokopo Secondary School, Papua New Guinea.

In addition to speaking to students in schools, the FHA team distributes pamphlets and condoms, as part of their efforts to educate the public about sexual and reproductive health and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections.

“We participate in clinical and community outreach activities,” she says. “We focus on family planning and especially on preventing unwanted pregnancies, so that young girls can complete their education.”

The team started with 20 peer educators but, during the pandemic, that number dropped to 10. Primrose is now looking to recruit new peer educators who can join them in promoting the health services offered at the Family Health Association ; provide information on healthy, non-violent relationships; and sharing information on sexual and reproductive health.

Highland region of Papua New Guinea.

© Spotlight Initiative/Rachel Donovan

Highland region of Papua New Guinea.

speak the same language

“We believe it is very important to ensure that young people realize that violence against anyone, whether in a relationship or between other young people, is not acceptable,” said the director of the FHA , Michael Salini.

“We need to get this message across to them. That is why we engage these young people to do so on behalf of the organization. Youth talking to youth is the most effective way to change perceptions and values ​​in communities. »

“When peer educators talk to young people, it’s like we’re speaking the same language,” says Primrose. “We’re in the same peer groups and we’re better able to get that message across.”

The approach is important because older people often do not recognize the experiences of young people.

“Personally, I have had this kind of cyberbullying experience,” confessed Margaret, a senior student from Kokopo Secondary School. “At that time, none of the teachers really understood it.”

According to the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF, one in three young people in 30 countries have been bullied online, and one in five said they had skipped school due to cyberbullying and violence.

“I think cyberbullying is one of the issues older people struggle to understand,” Margaret says. “If a young person stands up and talks to young people in a way they understand, people will pay attention.”

The Spotlight Initiative in Papua New Guinea

The Spotlight Initiative supports the Family Health Association of East New Britain to carry out youth outreach activities that promote positive relationships and connect young people to sexual and reproductive health services.

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