Cash pours in to aid ex­ploited girls

Weekend Herald - - News - Belinda Feek

A cam­paign to help raise money for young girls be­ing ex­ploited in Asia has ex­ceeded its $100k goal, raising $111,000 so far.

While the Her­ald/World Vi­sion — Not for Sale cam­paign wraps up, the fundrais­ing con­tin­ues with all pro­ceeds go­ing to those af­fected by child ex­ploita­tion.

The cam­paign is fo­cused on Asia, where one in nine girls is mar­ried be­fore age 15.

Gareth Owen, World Vi­sion’s head of mar­ket­ing and en­gage­ment, says mil­lions of girls are be­ing forced into child mar­riage, labour or pros­ti­tu­tion and hope­fully the cam­paign goes some way to com­bat­ing it.

“We’re so aware that mil­lions of girls have been ex­ploited when they should be en­joy­ing their child­hood, they shouldn’t be sold into pros­ti­tu­tion or forced into child labour or mar­ried against their will.”

Dur­ing the cam­paign, New­stalk ZB journalist Kerre McIvor and Her­ald videog­ra­pher Mike Scott trav­elled to Asia to cap­ture sto­ries of those af­fected.

Mean­while in Auck­land, the cam­paign’s most con­tro­ver­sial story un­folded when ac­tors Kylie Thomp­son, 18, and Alan Fish, 55, pre­tended to wed at St Paul’s Church. Some passersby turned their heads in hor­ror and mut­tered in disgust but none ap­proached the “new­ly­weds” to ques­tion the sit­u­a­tion.

Thomp­son was shocked that no one asked what was go­ing on.

Owen said Asia boasted half of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, which was where there was a lot of vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

“So if you had to have a bulls­eye, that’s where the is­sue is preva­lent, re­ally, and where we want to have an im­pact at World Vi­sion.

“We have been thrilled with the re­sponse that we’ve had, es­pe­cially the me­dia that the Her­ald and oth­ers have been fol­low­ing on this.” Do­na­tions were still com­ing in. “Our goal was at least $100,000 so we’re over that. We ex­pect more will come in. Of­ten there’s a strong tail that comes in from this.”

It was a cam­paign World Vi­sion would keep push­ing on, he said.

“This is some­thing which is re­ally im­por­tant to us and many New Zealan­ders.”

Owen said there would be three key ar­eas where the money would be spent; ed­u­cat­ing com­mu­ni­ties and chil­dren about chil­dren’s rights and pro­tec­tion, re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing those who’d had their lives turned around, and reach­ing out to of­fi­cials to push law changes.

“Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion is tough but . . . we want to rein­te­grate them back into com­mu­ni­ties or re­turn them to school.”

The girls and their fam­i­lies would also be as­sisted fi­nan­cially.

“Those girls who might have been traf­ficked, we want to rein­te­grate them into fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties and set them up with work and also give them fi­nan­cial help, and that can be along the lines of help­ing them with small busi­nesses.

“And the ad­vo­cacy. Reach­ing out to of­fi­cials at all lev­els to try to change the laws and have them forced to stop this be­fore it even starts.”

He said it was sad chil­dren were put into such sit­u­a­tions “but un­for­tu­nately hu­mans are greedy”.

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