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May 21, 2004

Handbook promotes young women advocacy

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Anyone willing to take an honest look at our society knows that Belize is not an ideal environment to raise young women and girls. But one group, instead of just talking about the situation, has decided to do something. They’ve published a handbook on how to agitate for progress.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

The forty-page publication titled “Making Change for Young Women and Girls: The YES Advocacy Book” gives basic guidelines for anyone interested in stopping abuse. Consultant Debra Lewis says following two workshops in March, the Youth Enhancement Services concluded that meaningful change is possible if society is willing to alter the way it treats victims.

Debra Lewis, Consultant

“I think the first and most important thing is we have to really look at our attitudes about young women and girls. One of the things I think that disturbed almost everyone who was involved in the workshop is the extent to which we blame young women and girls for a lot of the experiences that happen to them. So that when young women and girls are sexually abused or exploited, we hold them responsible rather than the perpetrators of the abuse.”

The book includes a number of graphs and illustrations exploring the touchy subject of who’s actually to blame for the abuse and what would push anyone to take advantage of young women and girls. Lewis says existing mechanisms are clearly not helping.

Debra Lewis

“The system is just not working as well as it should. And one of the things that YES will be doing is taking a look at that system and coming up with some specific recommendations on how we could change things for the better.”

But while the handbook is designed to help fight the abuse of women and girls, Lewis says a big part of the discussion has to be about the perpetrators themselves. Anyone interested in bringing about change is encouraged to purchase one of the books which are available from Y.E.S.

Debra Lewis

“The book is about developing advocacy, and specifically in this case, developing advocacy for women and girls. So it’s not a guide on what we can do to stop the abuse, it’s a guide on how we can organise ourselves to stop the abuse.”

Patrick Jones, for News 5.

Copies of the Y.E.S. advocacy book will be distributed to schools, libraries, relevant NGO’s, and government institutions. The price is ten dollars and it is available from the Outreach Department of Youth Enhancement Services.


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