As part of Foundation Puntos de Encuentro's strategy against commercial sexual exploitation of adolescents (CSEA) (2011-2013), Alerta y Pilas Puestas ("Alert and Be Ready") was launched in 2012 in an effort to build the capacity of adolescents as well as actors in their direct surroundings to contribute to the reduction of the stigma and discrimination related to CSEA in Central America. The primary audience is girls between 13 and 18 years who are not experiencing situations of commercial sexual exploitation but who are at risk of going down that path. Through the campaign, and in order to strengthen their self-efficacy to prevent CSEA, the goal is that this audience will:
- increase their awareness regarding the various ways that are being used to exploit adolescents sexually and the different actors that are involved in this crime;
- promote the recognition that commercial sexual exploitation is a crime based on social gender and generational norms as well as power relations;
- question social gender and generational norms related to the exercise of their sexuality so they will recognise their right to live without violence; and
- acquire knowledge and practical tools to avoid being a CSEA victim.
The secondary audience is community leaders - men and women - who influence public opinion and the social context of adolescents. Specifically, Foundation Puntos de Encuentro focuses on journalists of national and local media, organisations that are part of the women's movement and those that work with mixed groups, as well as teachers from secondary education centres.
Campaign actions include:
- Printed materials: Organisers have used posters, workbooks, and several promotional materials, including displays on public transport units.
- Mass communication
- Broadcasting of the TV series Contracorriente (which promotes the importance of mutual respect, communication, and negotiation to solve interpersonal and family conflicts, as well as the importance of social safety nets) in Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador - one of its main stories focused on CSEA.
- Live and online broadcasting of the youth radio programme DKY FM, which addresses controversial and taboo issues that affect the lives of Nicaraguan teenagers and youth in what are intended to be entertaining and provocative ways.
- Transmission of a radio series about CSEA.
- Articles published in the feminist magazine La Boletina (nationwide coverage, distributed to organisations and institutions in Nicaragua).
- Thematic insert in national newspaper El Nuevo Diario.
- Transmission of thematic radio and TV spots.
- Promotional and educational printouts (e.g., posters and workbooks).
- Educational toolkit "Change Your World" distributed to organisations, education centres, and institutions that work with adolescents and youth. This toolkit includes: a specialised multimedia library on CSEA (online and in the form of a DVD); a thematic edition of Contracorriente (see the 23-minute video, below); a radio series, ESCApe, focused on CSEA and human trafficking; and methodological guides to work with the audiovisual and radio materials; and
- Virtual/online promotion on websites and social networks.
- Public actions
- Nationwide tours on CSEA with the Contracorriente cast, including discussion events at secondary schools, meetings with key actors (public figures, community leaders, etc.) and interviews with the media in Nicaragua and El Salvador (to date).
- Discussion and exchange groups with journalists and a workshop with DKY FM correspondents.
- Discussion groups and encounters between organisations and government institutions.
- Workshops with groups and organisations part of the wider Central American women's movement.
Most of these actions have been co-organised and coordinated with organisations of the wider women's movement, state institutions, networks, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in prevention, attention, penalisation, and social reintegration of victims of sexual violence.
Click here to read a blog entry (in Spanish) that further describes the campaign actions.
Alerta y Pilas Puestas grew out of a global strategy against CSEA that began in 2011, when Foundation Puntos de Encuentro carried out several actions in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala under the slogan "We Need to be Able to Talk". The aim was to strengthen capacities of those organisations and institutions that work on the prevention of violence against women and to create a favourable public opinion towards adolescent girls who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
Throughout 2012, Foundation Puntos de Encuentro reached more than 10,500 people in Nicaragua and El Salvador (5,900 women and 4,600 men - 78% of whom were adolescents) who participated in public activities and video forums in schools and received information about different strategies used by aggressors, procurers, and middlemen, as well as ways to avoid being a victim. According to the organisation, the campaign has received widespread recognition for its contribution to awareness raising and increased intent to act on cases of human trafficking and CSEA.
Emails from Irela Solorzano and Irene Lindenhovius to The Communication Initiative on May 3 2013 and May 6 2013, respectively; and Puntos de Encuentro website, May 6 2013.