Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are created as a globally shared blueprint for ending poverty creating peace, protecting the planet and creating prosperity for everyone by 2030.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the core of the Agenda, which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership.
Organizations play an important role in achieving these goals and creating a better and safe world for all people and nature around the globe. Below Free a Girl USA’s alignment with the SDGs.
SDG 5: Gender equality
SDG 5.2: To eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation
This SDG fits the core of the work of Free a Girl USA. All our rescue, aftercare and access to justice programmes work towards the mission of eliminating trafficking and sexual exploitation of girls.
We attempt to eliminate sexual exploitation by:
- Rescuing girls from sexual exploitation
- Ensuring they receive the right aftercare for them to return to their life with alternative economic options.
- Working with the judiciary and police to ensure they work more effectively in investigating and addressing sexual exploitation of girls, to prevent revictimization of SEC survivors whilst they seek justice and to prevent more future cases of SEC.
SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
SDG 16.2 To end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children
Girls comprise around 95% of the minors that we encounter during our investigation and rescue programmes. However, we do intercept and rescue boys as well in our work. Free a Girl USA fights towards ending exploitation of all children.
SDG 5: Gender equality
SDG 5.1: To end all forms of discrimination against women and girls everywhere
Most women and girls in our programme countries end up being sexually exploited due to their position within their families, communities and in the society in general. Due to existing gender norms and gender inequality many problems disproportionately affect women and girls, such as domestic and sexual violence, lower pay, lack of access to education, and inadequate healthcare.
One of our pillars is prevention. Within this, we create awareness and campaigns about the situation of sexual exploitation of children in the USA and other program countries. In addition to making people aware of the problem and existence of sexual exploitation of children, we also want to break through the stigma and taboo on victims and survivors. These campaigns sometimes contain educational elements, for teenagers and adults.
Through our programmes that we execute under in alliance, we aim to address the existing gender inequality in vulnerable communities through youth clubs and discussion platforms. We bring in children, parents and community elders to discuss gender equality and how to best protect your children against sexual exploitation through education, job security and general safety measures. We also believe in a strong involvement of boys and men in these discussions, so they are integral part of the discussions and youth clubs.
Furthermore, our programmes mentioned under SDG 5.2 also contribute to fighting discrimination against women and girls, focussed on combatting sexual exploitation.
SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
SDG 16.3 To promote the rule of law at the national and international levels, and ensure equal access to justice for all
One of the pillars of Free a Girl USA’s strategy is to create access to justice for all victims of sexual exploitation. In many countries where we work most victims don’t even file a complaint. This is often due to lack of trust in the legal system, lack of knowledge about their position as victim, child unfriendly procedures during the court case and general stigma in society and from police and judiciary.
Therefore, in all our programme countries, Free a Girl USA works with police officers, public prosecutors, lawyers, judges and government officials to implement legislation regarding sexual exploitation of children in a fairer and child friendly manner. We do this by giving training to all partners on the importance of tackling sexual exploitation of children as well as how to deal with these cases in a more trauma informed and child-friendly way to prevent revictimization and/or stigmatization. Through our support, more girls file complaints and receive compensation for the crime they fell victim to.
One of our programmes contributing to this SDG is also the Strategic Litigation Fund. The Fund will enable landmark cases on behalf of survivors of sexual exploitation that will set a precedent for similar future cases. Free a Girl USA will work in partnership with organizations in countries where there is a gap in implementation of laws that recognize the rights of survivors according to international human right treaties. In countries with a common law system (like India, Bangladesh and Nepal), a verdict is as powerful as a law, especially if confirmed by the highest court.
SDG 10: Reduce Inequality
SDG 10.2 By 2030 empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
Most victims of sexual exploitation are from a marginalized background. Either they are from very poor families, from ethnic or religious minorities and in large numbers it concerns women and girls (95%). After they have fallen victim to sexual exploitation, the societal stigma is enormous and their chance of getting out of the situation is minimal. In many ways they are excluded from social, political and economic chances to get a fair chance in society.
After we rescued the victims, we often see that they have difficulties adjusting back to life in their former communities and we see that victims rarely file a complaint against their trafficker due to the social stigma and the stigma they receive from police and judiciary. With Free a Girl USA’s programme we give victims aftercare services including psychosocial counselling and medical support. Moreover, we also execute family visits and counselling to ensure a better social reintegration. In some countries we also run programmes that support victims in getting vocational education and job training to ensure they have economic opportunities as well. Furthermore, we ensure the judicial procedures are more trauma sensitive and inclusive for victims of sexual exploitation.
SDG 4: Education
SDG 4.7 By 2030 ensure all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including among others through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development
Free a Girl USA’s specifically works on this SDG through our School for Justice programme in India, Nepal and Brazil. The School for Justice is a programme for survivors who fell victim to sexual exploitation of children (SEC) as a minor (but can now be young adults) in which they become change agents and assist in combatting SEC and raising awareness on SEC locally.
To empower survivors to become change agents and speak up about the issue of SEC, they are provided with education in a humanitarian direction (journalism, law, police academy, social work, etc.) as well as get extensive counselling, coaching, and training. Furthermore, we also work with the community and families of the survivors in order to create a supportive network around the survivors on their journey to become change agents.
After finishing the School for Justice, students and former SEC victims are able to empower themselves through their acquired education and are able to support new SEC victims by defying social stigmas about SEC survivors and raising awareness in their local communities. The students will therefore promote an inclusive society that better protects the rights of all children.
The School for Justice Programme has received international recognition and was mentioned in a UN report “as an innovative model of social inclusion” and the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children expressed to be impressed by the programme.
SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals
SDG 17.17 To encourage and promote effective public, public- private, and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
As sexual exploitation of children is such a widespread societal issue, tackling the stigma and perception of the issue requires partnerships with both public, private and civil society partners. In order to execute our rescues effectively as well as ensure that the access to judicial support and compensation improves, Free a Girl USA and its partners have to build a strong local network with partners in the government, other civil society organizations and companies, specifically in the entertainment and tourist industries where a lot of exploitation takes place.
In order to detect and rescue girls safely we rely heavily on our cooperation with the local police, CSOs and companies. In our route to creating more access to justice we work together with the local judiciary, police and government to ensure that the policies and methodologies of investigating and charging sexual exploitation cases is locally embedded. We could not do our work effectively without having strong local ties and strong partnerships with all instances involved.