Empowering vulnerable youth (street children)
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.