A Coordinated Faith-based Response to Sexual Exploitation in Asia
At a time when child sexual abuse is receiving much media attention because of Michael Jackson as well as the increasing number of reported sexual abuse cases within the church, Viva Network's Asha Forum, as an affiliate of the World Evangelical Alliance, is making great strides to unite and expand a global movement addressing the epidemic of child sexual abuse.
October of 2002 The Asha Forum organized the first international gathering of Christian NGO leaders to form a plan of how together they would work to address child sexual abuse globally. February 25th to 29th 2004 over 50 leaders in organizations participating in The Asha Forum movement came together in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to develop strategic 10, 5, 2 year and 90 day plans to combine their efforts to best address all forms of child sexual abuse in Asia. These leaders prioritized four areas of need which they are now beginning to address in a more coordinated way. One of The Asia Asha Forum working groups is addressing education and awareness needs, another is addressing advocacy issues, another group of organizations is working to bring healing to survivors, and the fourth working group is helping get financial resources to organizations working to address sexual abuse in Asia. Current working group action plans and consultation notes will be made public so that others can join in this coordinated effort.
Participants at this first Asia Asha Forum Consultation were energized by having the opportunity to work with other leaders to develop a coordinated action plan for addressing child sexual exploitation in Asia. Participants are already planning the 2nd Asia Asha Forum Consultation for February 2005 in order to evaluate their progress, include others in this global-linked regional strategy, adjust plans as needed, and provide some shared training, which many organizations would not have the capacity to provide on their own.
According to Michael McGill, child psychologist and founder of The Asha Forum, “We stand now at a pivotal point in history. Now is the time for us to step beyond fragmented efforts to bind together with resolve and strategy, and by the grace of God to begin to turn the tide against the growing epidemic of sexual exploitation that is ravaging our world. …Churches are the single largest untapped resource in the fight against child sexual exploitation. They are present in every country of the world and have a mandate to protect and advocate for the abused.”
As an extension of Viva Network , The Asha Forum exists to inform, unite, equip and mobilize Christians worldwide: a) in preventing all forms of child sexual abuse, and b) in working with sexually abused children in the context of family and community, helping them become all God created them to be. The first Latin American Asha Consultation is being planned for November 2004, and the 2nd international consultation for early 2005.
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