Empowerment of high risk youth in Pakistan

Empowerment of high risk youth in Pakistan

Rana Gulzar Ahmad

Amal, NGO, Quetta, 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, drought, disease, war and internal conflict, economic

breakdown causing unemployment, and homelessness have 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 to prevent the transmission of STDs/HIV/AIDS

among vulnerable youth.

Methodology Baseline study and situation assessment of

Health problems particularly HIV and STDs among street children of Quetta,


Activities and conclusion The program launched a peer education

program, including: awareness of self and body protection focusing on child

sexual abuse, STDs/HIV/AIDS, life skills, gender and sexual rights awareness,

preventive health measures, and care at work.

It also opened care and counseling

center for these working and street children and handed these centers over to

local communities. 

Relationships among AIDS-related knowledge and beliefs and

sexual behavior of young adults were determined. Reasons 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 barriers 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 the baseline

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

Hakims, and blue films. Working children found sexual information through older

children and their teachers/ supervisors (Ustad).

Recommendations It was found

that working children are highly vulnerable to STDs/HIV/AIDS, as they lack

protective measures in sexual abuse and are unaware of safe sexual practices.

Training of adolescent as peer educators is recommended. Ours being an Islamic

society, such information should be given to youth in a way that does not

challenge local norms and values. Problem-based learning and participatory

education for improving knowledge and condom use and community-based

interventions should be considered for STDs/HIV/AIDS prevention.

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