IPPF EN launches KEEP ME SAFE project

21st March 2013
Keep me safe

PRESS RELEASE -- 8 August 2013

IPPF EN launches KEEP ME SAFE project: Empowering young people across Europe with learning disabilities to protect themselves against sexual abuse and violence

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) studies suggest that 39-68% of girls and 16-30 % of boys with intellectual or developmental disabilities will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. Violence against children with a disability occurs at 1.7 times the rate of violence against non-disabled children (UN Violence Study 2006). Yet, the sexual health needs and rights of these populations continue to be largely neglected. “KEEP ME SAFE”, a new European-wide initiative from the International Planned Parenthood European Network (IPPF EN) highlights the importance of putting policies and appropriate programmes into place in order to ensure that young people living with learning disabilities enjoy intimate relationships without putting themselves at risk and that they have access as others do to sexual and reproductive health information and services, including family planning.

On March 4-6, IPPF EN Regional Office officially launched the KEEP ME SAFE project: Empowering young people with learning disabilities to protect themselves against sexual abuse and violence across Europe. This is a two-year European-wide initiative coordinated by IPPF EN and co-funded by the European Commission (DG Justice – Daphne III Programme).

IPPF EN will use Sexual Rights: an IPPF Declaration and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as a framework for the project, adopting a sex positive and human rights approach.

“Often caretakers and family members struggle to deal with sexuality, intimacy, desires and needs of young people with disabilities”, said Vicky Claeys, Regional Director of IPPF EN. “With this project, we would like to work with people with disabilities, their parents and those closest to them, drawing on the expertise available in the field to reinforce a protecting and empowering environment for young people with disabilities.”

The KEEP ME SAFE project brings together 13 IPPF Member Associations from the European Region to create a European Partnership for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse and Violence against young people living with learning disabilities. The idea is to facilitate the exchange between IPPF Member Associations in Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal and the UK who are already experts in working with people with learning disabilities and those Member Associations from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Latvia, the Republic of  Macedonia1, Romania and Spain who would like to initiate or expand their programmatic work in this particular field.

The project will produce a comprehensive package of tools such as a training manual for people who work directly with young people with learning disabilities, as well as the creation of a Best Practice manual to set standards at a European level.

IPPF EN has also initiated discussions with external partners (European Disability Forum, Inclusion Europe, Mental Health Europe, COFACE, Eurochild) and is looking forward to exploring further possibilities for collaboration with organizations, both at national and regional level, who work on cross-cutting issues dealing with young people and disabilities.

DAPHNE project logo

1.UN technical reference "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia"

For further information contact Marieka Vandewiele, Senior Programme Advisor at mvandewiele@ippfen.org.
The International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN) is one of 6 regions of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. It is the strongest global voice safeguarding sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for people everywhere. IPPF EN includes 40 membership-based associations throughout Europe and Central Asia, as well as the Regional Office in Brussels.