Friday, May 8, 2015

Addressing Sexual Exploitation: Challenges

Like I've said a few times in the last four posts - the model and frameworks I'm describing are how I envision sexual expoitation being addressed in an ideal situation. Based on my research and observations, this is the model that has the most potential to be effective. However, there are some serious challenges and obstacles that prevent this arrangement from being the reality.

The first significant challenge is in securing and distributing funding. I have created the pyramid with the 'teams' level as the widest part because these are the groups that should receive the majority of the resources. Teams carrying out projects on the ground most closely interact with victims and are directly addressing the problem of sexual exploitation and can therefore produce more results with the funds than agencies or organizations. Unfortunately, the case in reality is quite the opposite:

The reason this is the situation relates to where the sources of funding are directing the support. Governments, corportations, and private donors usually give to agencies, because those giving don't have the time to select individual teams doing this work. The hope is that agencies will distribute the funding well so that teams on the ground get the benefit of this funding. Unfortunately, large agencies in reality use funds for administrative costs and bloated staffs, and only small grants make it to the teams on the ground. If funds can be directly infused at every level, in addition to the traditional trickle-down approach, more grassroots changes could occur.

Of course, certain donors (such as corporations and large funding agencies) will still only give to top-level agencies. However, if private donors can give directly to organizations and local governments can give grants to specific projects carried out by teams, funding will be more properly distributed in order to best address the problem.

For this model to work, though, there is a need for specialization. Agencies will have to focus on forming policies and conducting research. Organizations must specialize in planning projects and distributing funding. Finally, teams should focus on direct client work in the areas of prevention, intervention, and restoration. However, when one particular level is not meeting its obligations, the other levels must make up for this. Unfortunately, this often means that teams on the ground are left overworked, attempting to form best practice policies, raise funds, and assist victims in need.

Once again, here is what I would be consider the ideal distribution of responsbilities in visual form:

In addition to specialization, however, collaboration must also be present. It is not enough for each level to focus on its particular area of responsibility. There must be strong lines of communication between these levels. This can be very difficult and time consuming, but I believe the long term results will make this well worth it. Even more important is collaboration between teams addressing different areas of prevention, intervention, and restoration. More on this in my next blog series.

The final challenge that arises when addressing sexual exploitation is the need for integrity. Many organizations and countries struggle to properly use funds or meet ethical standards on this issue. This is why agency-level groups need to establish policies for the best use of funds, and organizations should be responsible for holding their teams accountable to these standards.

People have written books on the topics I have covered here in a short blog post. I understand that there are even more challenges that would arise in attempting to achieve the goals I have described. However, I believe that this model is what will prove most effective into the future if the challenges can be addressed head on.


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