The Youth Enhancement Services (YES) held an official launch this morning at the Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel in Belize of their third advocacy campaign against sexual violence and abuse. YES, based in Ladyville Village, Belize District has partnered with the Women’s Department in what the organization’s director, Karen Cain, hopes to reach a countrywide audience while tapping into the consciences of sexual perpetrators.
“We want this campaign to target young people in general and we are talking about males and females because as we all know both males and females are targeted for sexual violence. We want to look specifically at the perpetrator in this campaign, appeal to their conscience, if there’s any such thing, to let them be aware that they are hurting these victims and these scars and psychological mishap that these people go through is long lasting. We are looking at targeting young people in school, out of school and the public in general to just look at sexual violence and to come forth, report it and just seek the help necessary. We think the first two campaigns were effective. I think YES can be said to be the champions of this cause. We started, as I said, in 2004 and we attribute a lot of the reports coming forward, even up to today, is because of what we did in bringing the campaign to the forefront, going on television, going on radio and that was also done countrywide.”
According to Cain, the campaign will be carried on for the next three years with special presentations being done in schools countrywide as well as public service announcements via the media. Special Guest Speaker at this morning’s launch was the Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Human Development, Judith Alpuche. CEO Alpuche spoke of what Government hopes will be achieved through this collaboration.
“It might be a new campaign but this is really the continuation of work. It’s part and parcel of a bigger response because it is really about the community saying that our children are valuable and they need to be protected and this is not acceptable and this is what we’re hoping the public education and awareness component that the YES is leading, will foster; some more understanding and will move us even closer to realizing that. The sexual violence is a complex issue; issues of masculinity, issues of how we see sexuality, all that rolled into one and then the neglect issues are playing, sometimes the poverty issues are in play. This is very multifaceted.”
As we mentioned, this campaign is the third one since the establishment of the Youth Enhancement Services. The first took place in 2004 under the theme, ‘No Means No – Use Your Voice’; followed by the campaign in 2009 with the theme, ‘My Future Is Not For Sale’ while this third campaign has been launched with the theme, ‘Sexual Violence Is No Joke’.