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Forum planned for youths at risk of sexual violence

By Marion Ali, Assistant Editor

The level of sexual violence against youths, how they react to such situations, and what kind of help they can seek will be the main focus this week, during round table meetings planned by the Nancy Marin Youth Foundation in San Ignacio town, Cayo.

The Foundation’s Executive Director, Nancy Marin, along with Moderator, Sofia Jawed-Wessel, PhD, MPH and coordinators are planning two days of discussions with relevant parties to discuss sexual violence that affect youths, with a view to educating those who are vulnerable.

“The communities in the Cayo District have become the biggest statistics in teenage pregnancy, gender-based violence, suicide and depression. While this may sound bleek for this area, it must be placed into context that this peaceful, relaxed and beautiful Caribbean landscape is suffering from new challenges and undercurrents, either globally or locally-induced, that are adversely inflicting undue hardships and lowering the quality of life particularly to the young in this community,” Marin shared with the Reporter.

Her foundation is seeking to come up with a strategy to address what the data reveals. “A simple search for example: Teenage Pregnancy in Belize reveals a wealth of updated and relevant data with alarming summaries. While this data is reliably present, we are still seeing the rising statistics of this new societal dilemma,” Marin continued.

Through a collaborative effort with the University of Nebraska, Omaha (UNO) Dr. Jawed-Wessel hopes to raise awareness among the youths of Belize and UNO regarding behavior risks, program and policy issues and the need to build capacity.

Some 40 youths from the Belize and Cayo districts will join relevant participants, including an attorney, and community leaders at the Aguada Hotel on Monday and Tuesday for the discussion.

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