Youth Health Support Group in Papua New Guinea Tackles Issue of Physical and Sexual Violence

A health support group in Papua New Guinea are hoping to cut physical and sexual violence through their outreach work in schools and communities across East New Britain.

The Spotlight Initiative, backed by the UN, is supporting the Family Health Association in East New Britain to conduct youth outreach activities that promote positive relationships and connect young people to sexual and reproductive health services.

The aim is also to educate young people and give support to survivors.

Primrose, Youth Coordinator for the FHA in East New Britain province says, “most of the survivors of gender-based violence that we see in the clinic are young adults.”

Primrose delivered a presentation to senior students of Kokopo Secondary School as part of FHA’s school outreach programme, in which she told students that they can reach out to the FHA if they need help, and that violence is never the survivor’s fault.

As well as speaking to students at schools, the team from FHA distribute pamphlets and condoms, as part of their efforts to educate the public on sexual and reproductive health, and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections.

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

FHA director Michael Salini says, “we believe that it’s very important to ensure that young people realise that violence against anyone, whether it’s in a relationship or between any other young people, is not okay.

We need to get that message across to them. So that’s why we engage these young people to do it on behalf of the organisation. Young people talking to young people is the most effective way of changing perceptions and values in communities.”

Another area of concern is online bullying. According to the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, one in three young people in 30 countries have been a victim of online bullying, with one in five reporting having skipped school due to cyber bullying and violence.

The Spotlight Initiative is a global initiative from the United Nations that aims to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

Image credit: The Spotlight Initiaive