In September, two members of our Young Researchers Advisory Panel (YRAP) attended an international sexual violence conference in Brazil, together with three International Centre staff. Here one of them, Kirsche Walker, shares some reflections on her experience.
My experience of attending the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) conference in Brazil was very exciting from the start. We ran a pre-conference workshop on ‘Creating safe spaces to talk about unsafe relationships: Developing guidance for children and young people’s participatory involvement in research about sexual violence’. We also gave presentations on why and how we should involve young people in research on sexual violence in a panel discussion later on in the week.
During my time in Brazil I networked and met some truly wonderful people from all over the world and from many different types of organisations (NGO’s, IGO’s and many more). Some of those memorable people include Brisa De Angulo who herself experienced sexual violence when she was young. Brisa is based in Bolivia. She has been very active in raising awareness of sexual violence against young people, working towards higher prosecution rates for perpetrators of these crimes and creating some amazing safe spaces for young people affected by sexual violence. The conference had so many people that were doing such great things and it was amazing to have the opportunity to connect and continue to connect with these people in and outside the conference.
Overall I think it is very important for young people to able to attend and present at these types of conferences – to create their own voice, to be heard and speak out about the benefits of involving young people in research, especially on topics that affect them. Being at the conference presented us with the opportunity to highlight and challenge some of the stereotypical views and barriers that might explain why so few professionals involve young people in research on sexual violence. It gave us the chance to push past those barriers and create spaces for engagement where we could also consider the benefits (and not just the challenges) of engaging young people. It also presents an important narrative for why youth-involvement is a powerful research tool that can produce well-informed data and enhance the credibility of research findings.
CJ and I also won the runners up award for best young researchers during the conference. This was a fantastic achievement that clearly showed that we managed to convince people of the value and importance of involving young people in research on sexual violence!