Raks Thai Foundation, Lumphun Province initially worked in advocating for domestic and sexual violence, covering the area of eight districts. Then the works expanded to include AIDS and teenage pregnancy. The experience makes the advocates realize that these issues are interlinked.
Mrs. Nipha Chomphupa, the representative of Raks Thai Foundation, Lumphun Province mentioned that the past work in various areas has helped her to see the many facets of problems. First of all, young girls and women are forbidden to express inappropriate behaviors or even forced not to do so. These young people then do not value themselves. Secondly, the society and community have negative attitudes towards sexual issues. They do not perceive the problems about sexual behaviors of children and youth as they are actually happening. Talking about sex is shameful. Most people see violence as a private matter of each person. And people in the society and community tend to stigmatize and judge the children with a problem as bad persons. Thirdly, the existing health system is a legal-framework-based system that focuses on the supervisory order. There is a referral system but lacks the long-term follow-up measures. In addition, the community emphasizes on synthesizing the problem rather than explaining the situation to the people, resulting in the disconnection of the coordination system among the community and the provincial levels. The last problem is that state agencies, ranging from the provincial, district, sub-district and community levels have their own strategies that are not consistent. They do not coordinate or communicate with each other.
These concerns, derived from actual experience in the previous work, bring about a more proactive strategy through participatory work procedures as follows:
- Promote basic concepts about sex and enhance capabilities of local administrative organizations and communities on community multidisciplinary network development;
- Campaign for mechanisms of aid system and service system to connect communities, schools, hospitals and the youth/women in the communities with provincial multidisciplinary partners;
- Empower women, children and families to become mentally strong and to be able communicate about sex with their partners and community members;
- Network to connect the existing work mechanisms with the central government and local systems and to support the comprehensive system to help pregnant adolescents;
- Mobilize resources on the prevention and assistance of sexually assaulted children, youth and women / families / adolescent pregnancy in the community and the province;
- Link the work strategies and work together to generate outcomes; and,
- Develop information system and lessons learned and disseminate to other areas.
We found from our working that in two sub-districts of our responsible areas in Lamphun, although the project was over, the community continued to raise fund and announced their regulations that sub-districts “shall provide financial support to the advocacy on violence and adolescent pregnancy annually where representatives from the working groups shall be included in the strategy planning at the local and district levels.”
Apart from that, the concerns also bring about action plans for alleviating sexually assaulted children, youth and women and domestic violence for communities in Lumphun. There are two options: 1) where it can be handled by the community, referral system is not required as the local community can manage by using procedures of providing helps, monitoring/evaluating, and reporting the progress; and, 2) where it is beyond the community’s ability, referral system is required at the provincial level, including the working committee of Provincial Social Development and Human Security, Children and Youth Shelter, hospitals and police. The provincial working committee would arrange meetings with the sub-district multidisciplinary team, leading to the assistance, along with further follow up and valuation plans in the long run. Base on such action plans, Lamphun development model was achieved under the Children, Youth and Women Protection Subcommittee.
Currently, the partners have expanded to cover the Vocational College, Technical College, pregnancy alternative parties, private agencies, Chiang Mai University, radio broadcasting agencies, and several establishments in the province.
However, the working committee has pointed out strengths and weaknesses of the previous works.
In terms of strategy, although there are mechanisms in working, there is also a lack in the connection with the mechanism on strategies. Even though a help system is available, there is also a lack in the sensitive aspect. There are workforces but sometime they are judging or cannot get to the core or insight into the problems. There are youth leaders but there is a shortage of new cohorts to continue the program. And finally, although there are policies on the prevention and alleviation of adolescent problems as well as the resources and integration, there is still a lack of manpower that has in-depth understanding. This is very important in driving the work forward.
The above is an example of “the development of support system for pregnant adolescents from community to province” that is another excellent prototype of the development that is cross-sectorally interconnected and linked. This was heard in the conference on driving the advocacy on the development of support and welfare system for teenage pregnancy on August 20, 2015 at Bangkok, Thailand.