The local government of Arnedo (La Rioja, Spain) is to collaborate in the buying new transport for the social project Saint Monica´s Homes
The Solidarity Network of the Augustinian Recollects ARCORES , in collaboration with the Association Helping Fortaleza (Asociación AyudaFortaleza) and with technical support from the Commission for Social Apostolate of the Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine of the Order of the Augustinian Recollects presented the annual meeting for projects in cooperation with the development of the project: Improving the psycho-social resources for the Welcome Centre of Lar Saint Monica for minors at risk of sexual violence (Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil).
The idea behind the project is to give new resources to the Social Work they do, which includes buying new transport which would allow them to continue with home visits, appealing to the proper authorities in cases of abuse, abandonment or sexual violence and offering legal assistance to victims and families as well as increasing awareness in the surrounding area.
Sexual exploitation is a clandestine practice which involves large quantities of money, and which also has close links to other illegal activities like drugs trafficking, sexual tourism, child pornography and human trafficking. The districts where the vast majority of the victims come from, which attended to by Saint Monica´s Homes ,normally have very little State presence, and ignore the norms given and certain criminal organizations take advantage of this creating a culture of violence.
On the other hand, given the situation of unemployment or precarious employment situations and poverty in families there are many cases of single mothers often battling to face life with little or no resources. The sexual exploitation of minors also come from nuclear families, as a way of covering basic needs like food, clothing, education and the home.
The preventive interventions from different parts of the Public Administration in Brazil against sexual violence against minors have proven to be inefficient, with a lack of resources and funds. In lots of the districts the defensive body of the State doesn´t even dare to enter, and these areas are governed by cruel violence and criminal organizations.
The Saint Monica´s Home of the Augustinian Recollects in Fortaleza (Ceará, Brazil) is the only center for welcoming and attending to the integral needs of young girls and adolescents, specializing in the problem of sexual violence in the city. Also the houses for welcoming the victims rely on the Saint Augustine´s Psycho-social Centre (CAPSA) which works in direct way with some of the troubled areas in the city.
The project includes buying transport for the Social Work which will be used for home visits to the families of present residents in the welcome centers of Saint Monica´s Homes, and for some of the young girls and adolescents that have finished the period of stay and are now again back home but still need supervision. There are roughly fifty homes which the Social workers visit monthly within this program of prevention and support.
The beneficiaries of Saint Monica´s Homes have suffered or were at high risk of suffering sexual violence. According to statistics, almost 71% have suffered sexual abuse, 21% family negligence, 3% were living on the streets and almost 6% involved in commercial sexual exploitation.
As a result, they suffer from multiple psychological and emotional difficulties, amongst which can be highlighted guilt, low self-esteem, fear or even denying the need to report what they have suffered, problems with their natural development, emotional deficits, and cognitive and behavioral issues.
Faced with these difficulties, the Social Work within the Saint Monica´s Home and the family home is both necessary and important. This integral attention and constant visits allow them to work on emotional instability, depression, excessive impulsive behavior and hyperactivity, the lack of social skills, identity problems and altered sexual behavior, amongst other problems.
Through these visits the beneficiaries are educated and informed along with their families about hygiene habits, self-care and health in the home. As well as means of protection, preventative strategies, workers rights, institutions which can help them, relations with the Public Administration and diverse Public Services, controlling school attendance, preventing health problems and real and functional illiteracy…
Furthermore, knowing the reality of the families they can timely anticipate which members of the family run the greatest risk of suffering violence, and can even identify new cases. 15 % of the residents in the Home were identified in this way, whilst 85% of the other residents come from competent institutions like Youth Courts or Minors Councils.
Since Saint Monica´s Home was opened in 2009 124 minors have passed through the center. Every one of them has needed a varying period of time to recover and return to a healthy family environment. This requires constant attention by part of the Social Work in the center, and outside of it, working with the beneficiaries and their families in their homes where they previously suffered these aggressions.
In addition, the Social Work is in charge of the administrative and legal process which tends to be a heavy load given that they always are very strict in complying with the laws for protecting minors. The continual journeys to the Youth Councils, Legal Courts, the District Attorney, Local Government, the Defense of Minors Rights and those of Adolescents. Also educational institutions (colleges and professional training) and others where the young girls are sent during their stay in the Home.