We need to listen to young people…they’re the experts

Asaybi Snape LLM is the Co Founder of Gender Empowerment Movement, and was a young Filmmaker for the International Centre project on gang-associated sexual exploitation and violence. In this post she reflects on a recent symposium she attended on young people being involved in preventing sexual violence.

“A few months ago I attended the Cumberland Lodge symposium on involving young people affected by sexual violence in preventative measures. It was a very powerful day for me as a young person, as I believe that in order to best work with young victims of sexual violence you need to listen to their voices. As a young person who has grown up in a hostile area of Birmingham I have experienced an array of issues and been very aware of the issue of sexual violence and exploitation. The symposium was an excellent experience to teach professionals just how they can involve young victims in preventative measures – one suggestion being just to ask young people how they want to be worked with and supported.

I was honored to have the opportunity to raise awareness and teach professionals about child sexual exploitation and violence in gang affiliated relationships and focus a bit on the roles that girls can play in those contexts. It was an opportunity for me to explain the kinds of abuse young girls face growing up in gang-affiliated communities. I got to showcase a short film I created with a group of girls to raise awareness on this issue and it was a great achievement to be able to share it with the professionals and practitioners so that they could show it to the young people they come into contact with to continue raising awareness.

I think the powerful message of the day was about professionals learning from young people in order to know how best to work with, safeguard and support young people on these issues. After all young people that have experienced such issues are the experts in this area and therefore should be listened to.”

The films Asaybi was involved in producing can be found at our main website, along with a full report of the Cumberland Lodge event