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BRIDGE: Building Gender-Based Violence Awareness in Europe

Children and youth on the move are exposed to gender-based violence (GBV) and abuse in their country of origin, during the journey and in the destination country. Through the BRIDGE project (Building Relationships through Innovative Development of GBV Awareness in Europe), Tdh and partners are strengthening the response to this issue in EU countries and sensitise children and youth on how to better protect themselves.

Studies point to alarming accounts of gender-based violence (GBV) affecting refugee and migrant children and young people in the European Union. Several challenges, such as lack of data and professionals’ knowledge and coordination, as well as the low awareness amongst migrant children and young people make GBV difficult to tackle. The BRIDGE project strengthens the protection of GBV affected children and young people on the move in Belgium, Greece, Hungary, Malta, Romania and other EU countries.

 

Migration can be a traumatic experience for children and young people. They are sometimes travelling thousands of kilometres in dangerous and unhealthy conditions with limited access to food, shelter or medical care. The increased vulnerability as a result puts them at risk for gender-based violence. Sexual and gender-based violence refers to any act that is perpetrated against a person’s will and is based on gender norms and unequal power relationships[i]. This may include violence and exploitation by traffickers, civil servants, staff from public institutions, other migrants, or even their own family members. While it can happen to anyone on their journey or in their destination country, harmful social norms about the role of a man and a woman and gender-based power imbalances make young women and girls especially vulnerable. Moreover, victims are usually afraid to report gender-based violence, and are commonly disbelieved, ignored or blamed and shamed by their families and communities when they do.

 

[i] https://www.unhcr.org/sexual-and-gender-based-violence.html

“Most cases of GBV go unreported by children. It is therefore up to adults to be able to recognize the signs of GBV so that appropriate and swift action can be taken,” explains Nenad Matejic, the manager of the project. With this project, we are targeting the underreporting of cases of gender-based violence.

 

Innovative data collection tools

To address the issue of lack of data, we have developed a mobile data collection tool for care professionals and children and youth on the move. The questionnaire allows us to collect data on GBV, on the current knowledge gaps amongst professionals to recognise GBV and respond to it, on the level of understanding of GBV amongst children and youth on the move, and on their awareness of available protection services. Based on this data, we design our activities such as training programmes for care professionals and awareness raising campaigns.

 

Improving the capacities of care professionals

More than 1000 care professionals across Europe benefit from our capacity building activities. They learn how to identify and address specific forms of GBV among children and youth on the move and how to help them to prevent and recognise it. The on- and offline training is connected to our regional learning and sharing platform, ChildHub, which builds a gender-based violence community of practice and supports them with resources.

 

Raising the awareness of children and youth

We engage children and youth on the move themselves in the development of awareness raising campaign materials in each country. They will be developed in a variety of formats and have the aim to further inform and raise the awareness of children and young people on the move about GBV.