Our new ECPAT members spotlight series highlights the achievements of ECPAT members, and showcases their efforts to tackle the sexual exploitation of children in their country. First up: ECPAT Bolivia, or Fundación Munasim Kullakita!
Fundación Munasim Kullakita is a Bolivian organisation working with child victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking for sexual purposes, to whom the organisation provides protection and assistance. Fundación has also provided food and legal and social aid to Venezuelan migrants (more than 500 vulnerable families), preventing them from falling victims to trafficking and sexual exploitation. Fundación has offices in Caranavi, Cochabamba, Desaguadero (at the border with Peru), El Alto, Guayaramerin (at the border with Brazil), La Paz, Rurrenabaque and Santa Cruz.
Among its activities, Fundación has provided training and capacity-building sessions to more than 14,000 children. These were developed at a community level involving schools, families and grassroots organisations. All of them working for the benefit of children. Fundación also strengthened the public institutions by providing trainings to Bolivian police officials (3,900), and public officers from the national and regional public bodies (1,900).
Additionally, Fundación collaborated with the Bolivian police in:
- Creating a handbook on how to investigate SEC-related cases
- Implementing a child-friendly system for reporting SEC-related cases.
During these 13 years since its creation, Fundación has created places for exchange and collaboration with the public and private sectors, local communities, and networks of organisations to provide assistance, protect and prevent children from sexual exploitation.
There is a huge demand in the country to cover the needs of children victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking for sexual purposes (for what Fundación mentions that they have care houses specialised in these cases), strengthen the public institutions, and pursue the crime as such. Fundación counts on a multidisciplinary team providing technical and operational assistance under the given context and in different locations.
The number of SEC cases involving indigenous communities in Bolivia is dramatically increasing.
This generates a bigger demand on services provision from Fundación, but due to the lack of resources and organisational limitations, Fundación often cannot work or reach isolated rural contexts.
Currently, one of the biggest challenges is linked to working with unaccompanied Venezuelan migrant children. Bolivia is understood as a transit country, so children are exposed to specific risks, which are being tackled by Fundación, especially at the borders of Peru and Brazil.
Impacts of the pandemic
During the lockdown period (marked by movement restrictions and closed business), the operations at Fundación were focused on providing children in urban areas with virus-prevention kits (with a facemask, hand sanitizer, and some other items), as well as food baskets and food vouchers. Fundación distributed the kits in locations where they work, as people there constantly face enormous challenges to see their rights (right to food, education and medical care) fulfilled.
Fundación continued conducting prevention, strengthening and advocacy initiatives, all of which developed through ICTs online and respecting the norms and rules against the pandemic.
What it means to be part of the ECPAT Network
The knowledge and expertise Fundación has developed over the years comes from the existing technical and theoretical expertise within the Network, and the relationships with some other regional colleagues. These have allowed Fundación to be part of international events and lobby influential stakeholders (government and law enforcement representatives) to commit to children’s safety and future projects.
The documents developed by ECPAT (regional and global studies, guides, comparative studies, analysis etc.) have always been useful tools to help create and boost advocacy work in Bolivia.
Fundación is keen to continue playing a role in developing, and to benefit from more expertise and materials developed by the ECPAT network: including research, advocacy initiatives, guidelines and policies created in collaboration with public institutions, and wide awareness campaigns led by the Network members.
Listen to the Bolivia episode in our podcast Ending the silence on child sexual exploitation