Assisting child victims of abuse

Rachael Austin, the Prevention Educator and Community Coordinator at the Family Refuge Center in Lewisburg, is seeking support in raising funds to help child victims in Nepal where she will volunteer her services. Flying out on Mother’s Day, Rachael will be living and working in the center for three weeks this coming May. She says she hopes the trip will allow her to grow and learn more ways to assist and support the children the Family Refuge Center serves in Greenbrier, Monroe, and Pocahontas Counties.

The program has been coordinated by United Planet, a volunteer organization whose goal is to create a global community one relationship at a time. Their mission is founded on empathy, service, and most of all the value of every person – something that Rachael hold’s firmly in her own beliefs.

Sex trafficking of children is a problem in many parts of the world including Nepal, says Rachael Austin. Resources estimate that six to seven thousand children have been trafficked out of Nepal in the last ten years. Additionally, child marriage is still in practice. According to information obtained from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), “sexual abuse is widespread among Nepal’s street children.” The NSVRC shows that, based on a 2008 report, there were approximately 1000 boys living on the streets of Katmandu – and state that an estimated 75 percent are victims of sexual abuse at the hands of foreigners, locals and their peers. A research study report entitled No More Suffering – Child Sexual Abuse in Nepal – Children’s Perspectives published in April 2006 by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Child Workers in Nepal (CWIN), found that nearly 18 percent of the 4,000 students interviewed had experienced severe sexual abuse, including molesting and rape. Currently, the law in Nepal says that children must prove their assault within 35 days. After that, the abuser is no longer at risk of prosecution. Because victims of sexual assault and abuse are understandably overwhelmed by distress and fear, they are frequently unable to obtain justice against their abuser. Rachael will be working with staff in Nepal to help further awareness efforts to gain support for change and justice for Nepalese children. Because, currently, sexual abuse of boys is not recognized by their government as a criminal offense, these children are unable to seek justice for their abuse.

This particular volunteer placement is infrequently filled, says United Planet Quest coordinator. Because Rachael has a background in psychology, sociology, and years of experience advocating for women and child victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, she fits the bill.

To support Rachael so that she can further her effort to serve victims of abuse, please send donations to: Rachael Austin c/o the Family Refuge Center, P.O. Box 249, Lewisburg, WV 24901. Or, via Paypal to rachael.ge.austin@outlook.com. Or, at her fundraiser page www.gofundme.com/NepalChildVictims.

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