MINUSCA: Prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse also starts in the classroom
The United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) paid a visit to a high school in Bangui in January to inform students on how the UN works to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse by its personnel.
“Sexual exploitation and abuse affect every layer of the society, but the young in particular. The objective of this information session is to show the students that we need to address this scourge together”, said Désiré Karende, Deputy principal of the Barthelemy Boganda High School.
Rachel Ongaba-Boma, who works for the Mission’s Conduct and Discipline Team, told the students: “Sexual exploitation and abuse is one of the worst forms of violation of the UN standards. Our role is of course to fight it and the best way to achieve this is through outreach and awareness-raising”.
Students were able to ask questions to better understand this sensitive issue: “I now understand that MINUSCA does not condone the behavior of some of its employees”, said Junior, who attended the event. “This session changed the way I looked at the Mission,” added the 12th grade student.
Outreach is one of the core activities of the conduct and discipline team, says CDT outreach officer Alexandre Cudgenslhey. “It is one of our best tools to fight sexual exploitation and abuse. We involve every layer of the communities we interact with in this process”.
MINUSCA was one of the first peacekeeping missions to implement innovative initiatives to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse.
As part of its Zero Tolerance policy against sexual exploitation and abuse, the Mission regularly conducts special patrols in high-risk areas as well as after curfew hours. MINUSCA also trains its personnel on the zero tolerance policy upon deployment and throughout the time they serve.
Focal points within its personnel, partner organizations as well as within the communities living near MINUSCA premises facilitate the reporting of allegations. MINUSCA also set up a toll-free number (#4044) that can be used anywhere in the country to lodge a complaint about misconduct by peacekeepers. The Mission also conducts large-scale information campaigns on preventing and reporting sexual exploitation and abuse via radio, SMS, community meetings and theatre performances.